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When the Condominium Board Demands Your Facebook Page

There are many owners in condominiums and HOAs that, for one reason or another, have started Facebook pages for their community. I am all for supporting owners that want better communication with their neighbours – and it doesn’t matter in what venue: monthly klatches, book groups, or social websites.

What does get my hackles up is the boards of these condominiums or HOAs threatening, or taking, legal action to shut down these social media groups or sue for control of the social media.

The Maplewood Homeowner’s Association, Nashville Tennessee, has issued a letter to Susan Rowe that her failure to remove the name of the subdivision (Maplewood) from her 2 year old Facebook page would cause the association to sue her. The intent of the letter is not only to have her change the name of the site, but to turn the Facebook group over to the board.

Her Facebook group – “Residents of Maplewood” (changed from “Maplewood Subdivision”) is a private, invite only, group which posts about lost cats and neighbour requests to borrow lawn equipment. This isn’t even a case of “we hate our association postings”.

The use of Facebook for neighbors to communicate without authorization from the board is something that is legal, justified, and fully supportable. As well, identifying the group as related to a particular local or building – but indicating that it’s not the “official site” is also well and good. There can be no limitation on a group of activist residents using the name of the association within the group title. Otherwise it’s a lot like saying the Nashville Singers couldn’t use the word Nashville in their name. Just plain silly.

HOAs don’t have a right to control owner conversation – and really that’s the crux of most of these conflicts. It’s overbearing, control-freak, boards that see any ability for owners to organize as a threat to their position. To them I say good luck with that. Spend your time on building community – not destroying other people’s successful endeavours

PS. If the association wants is the word Maplewood removed – maybe the association should first go after all those other associations that show up on a Google search for Maplewood. It’s all so confusing as to which one is the real Maplewood, when they all stand up shouting “No, I’m Maplewood!