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  • Writer's pictureMichael Shifrin

Does Humanity Play a Role in Condo and Community Associations?

The 2020 outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic caused waves of uncertainty, panic, fear and heightened anxiety in Americans and people around the world. As is often the case with large scale disaster, it also united Americans in a single cause and brought humanity to the forefront of our minds. Notably, the word “humanity” is a blending of the words “human” and “unity.” Human + Unity = Humanity. defines the word “humanity” as the human race, which includes everyone on earth. It’s also a word for the qualities that make us human, such as the ability to love, to feel and to have compassion.

Do the qualities that make us human such as the ability to love, feel and have compassion for others play a role in condominium and community associations? Of course they do! After all, what are condo and community associations at their core? They are a collection of human beings living together, sometimes in close quarters, in the most intimate of settings, with a common goal of preserving and protecting possibly their greatest asset while experiencing as much enjoyment as possible.

It seems obvious that humanity would play a significant role in condo and community associations, right? Wrong. Serving as legal counsel for countless community associations throughout my legal career has taught me that people benefit from being reminded of the role humanity plays in their community. For example, sometimes overzealous board members take it upon themselves to police the association within which they live. They voluntarily walk the property on a weekly or monthly basis looking for violations to cite and fines to levy.

On the one hand, rule adherence and enforcement is a benefit, as it ensures community associations remain clean and tidy in appearance, uniform and desirable. These traits support the shared purpose of preserving and protecting the property value for everyone within the association. On the other hand, overzealous and constant policing of rules and regulations may cause divisiveness, anger, animosity, and distrust within the community. This, in turn, frustrates the shared goal of maintaining community harmony, a necessary ingredient for enabling association members to derive pleasure from their neighborhood. Can these conflicting objectives be reconciled?

Yes! Both goals may be accomplished. The secret (shhhhh, don't tell anyone) is assembling a thoughtful and considerate board of directors and leadership team that embraces the role humanity plays in community associations. A board that endeavors to preserve and protect community association property with the understanding that “human beings” live among them as neighbors. A board that drafts humane and reasonable rules and one that enforces them uniformly. A board that treats fellow association members with respect, kindness and compassion. A board that surrounds itself with like-minded professionals that share this same set of core values and principles.

Serving on a board of directors and fulfilling the responsibilities placed upon a board while practicing humanity may feel unnatural, if not outright oxymoronic. Rest assured, a seasoned and thoughtful leadership team can make all the difference in showing a board how to humanely serve.

The “leadership team” that surrounds a board plays a critical role in establishing the tone, tenor, and culture of the association. The leadership team typically consists of association property management and legal counsel. Knowledgeable and skilled board members consult with management and legal counsel before making important association decisions that impact everyone. Decisions such as drafting new policies, interpreting and enforcing policies, pursuing delinquent accounts, overseeing rule violations, managing noise complaints and more. If the board’s leadership team understands the role humanity plays within an association its advice will reflect this. Policies will be drafted and decisions can be made that enhance the culture of an association not divide it. After all unity, not divisiveness, seems to be in high demand at this moment in time.

Does your board consider humanity while fulfilling its roles and responsibilities? Does the leadership team provide professional guidance that accounts for humanity? Only board members know the answers to these important questions. Condominium and community associations that routinely practice humanity and exhibit compassion flourish and become highly desirable places to live.

What direction is your condo or community association headed?

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