In community living, disputes are inevitable. Opinions and perspectives clash, and strong emotions may erupt. However, if your client HOAs are experiencing prolonged and severe bullying and aggressiveness that go beyond mere boorishness, it may be time to draw the line and act. So how do you deal with an angry homeowner? Here are four ways HOAs can manage homeowner harassment.
Define Unacceptable Behavior
HOAs should clarify unacceptable behavior in their bylaws. Specific information and stipulations should define and clarify multiple areas, including:
- Behavior that constitutes abuse and harassment
- Physical actions, including defamation, threats, insults, profanity, and obscenities
- Cyber actions such as libel and spreading malicious accusations on the internet
In addition to explaining what they consider harassment and abuse, HOAs should also clearly state consequences for harassment, including fines, ejection from meetings, sanctions, or legal action. HOA boards need to include reminders on meeting agendas as well as write a clause into the bylaws or create a rule that describes what is considered abusive and harassing behavior. Comprehensive HOA insurance packages can help HOA boards stipulate what they will and will not tolerate from homeowners as well as protect them if actions begin getting out of hand, such as unsubstantiated rumors of wrongdoing.
Seek Involvement From Other Homeowners
Sometimes a community response to aggressiveness is effective. Even if a bullying homeowner is angry and yells during a meeting and ignores board members’ requests to be quiet and sit down, that person may listen if other residents repeat the request. Bullies often dislike confronting crowds.
Deal With Angry Homeowners in Writing
Before escalating situations, HOA boards can deal with angry homeowners by sending letters. Often, angry people let their emotions run amok. Letters detailing harassing behavior with specific occurrences, including dates, times, and what was done or said, often help angry homeowners rethink their responses and calm down.
These letters should articulate consequences if bullying and abuse continue. Letters can also offer alternative ways of expressing grievances, such as written lists submitted to HOA boards for consideration. When angry people feel others are listening, they may well act reasonably. HOA officials may turn to you for advice. Your HOA insurance specialty makes you a valuable resource for HOA boards troubled by abusive homeowner behavior.
Take Legal Action
If serious harassment continues, HOA boards may have to take legal action. Choices vary depending upon the nature of the abuse. For serious, direct threats, call 9-1-1 even if the threats seem empty. Civil restraining orders can be effective. Filing criminal charges is the most extreme response, but in cases of serious continuing harassment, it may be justified.
Nobody wants to deal with bullies, but sometimes there is no choice. HOA boards should be clear about what they consider to be harassment and actions they will take should it occur. Hopefully, angry homeowners will calm down when dealt with respectfully and reasonably, but if not, HOA boards should know their legal rights and take appropriate actions to ensure safety.
About Kevin Davis Insurance Services
For over 35 years, Kevin Davis Insurance Services has built an impressive reputation as a strong wholesale broker offering insurance products for the community association industry. Our president Kevin Davis and his team take pride in offering committed services to the community association market and providing them with unparalleled access to high-quality coverage, competitive premiums, superior markets, and detailed customer service. To learn more about the coverage we offer, contact us toll-free at (855)-790-7393 to speak with one of our representatives.
Social Title: Help for HOAs Dealing With Homeowner Harassment | Kevin Davis
Social Description: Sometimes HOA boards must deal with angry homeowners. Disagreements, though, should not lead to abuse. Find out how HOAs should handle harassing behavior.