For many years I have been including a code of conduct dealing with behavior at meetings in the association’s governing documents and providing methods for its enforcement. After having to deal with rude disruptions, harassment and even physical attacks, it becomes clear that some means of trying to assure courteousness and respect is appropriate. In your association, it may be appropriate to go beyond behavior at meetings and to also deal with treating neighbors and staff civilly. In common interest ownership communities, occupants must be willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of coexisting peacefully. Occupants must practice self-restraint and show respect for others.
The type of activities and expressions of discontent to be prohibited in a code of conduct must be carefully determined in order not to impinge on legitimate first amendment expression of opinions and free speech. An association must also determine whether or not prohibitions should be imposed on the association, board members and staff also. Electronic communications should also be dealt with. Needless to say, any kind of physical or verbal assault should be prohibited. Prohibit abusive language because of its profanity and or loudness with an emphasis on prohibiting threats and harassment. The code should require compliance with meeting rules and regulations. Creating risk of harm to persons or property or impairing the rights of others should not be permitted. It requires skill for the chairperson of a meeting to allow free expression, while at the same time maintaining proper decorum.
Enforcement must be consistent and follow prescribed steps. The usual enforcement tools are fines and denial of use of particular facilities. I do not advocate barring the offender from meetings, but guards or police may be appropriate to permit business to be conducted.
About the Author
Mr. Ronald B. Glazer is considered a national authority in the field of condominiums and homeowners’ associations. He has authored a number of published articles on various aspects of real estate law and has chaired panels and lectured for numerous organizations, including the International Council of Shopping Centers, the National Banking Law Institute, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Bar Associations, the Practicing Law Institute and several commercial program providers.
It is the author’s intention to post from time to time articles to help those living in, managing and dealing with common interest ownership communities (condominiums, residential cooperatives and homeowners associations).
If you have any comments or questions, please contact Ron at 215 893 4969 or [email protected].
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