Social media may fuel conflict between California homeowners associations and property owners or between two different property owners who belong to a homeowners association. When this occurs, the fallout can be damaging from both a public relations and legal standpoint. There are a number of issues with social media that make it an inherently bad fit with HOAs because HOAs are tightly regulated where social media is not. The best tactic for HOAs may be to set ground rules regarding social media.
The first step is to write regulations covering the uses of social media. These regulations should include guidelines on such issues as whether the board should have a social media presence and what should be communicated in that way. Social media posts should focus on lighthearted issues and not opinions or arguments, and posts should be moderated to keep commenting to a minimum.
Records should be kept in hard copy and not on social media. A similar approach to privacy may be appropriate for social media. One way to curb conflict is to make the pages private and have members agree to certain guidelines before they have access. Above all, it is important that all social media posts and interactions are within legal parameters.
Unfortunately, conflicts may erupt between HOAs and homeowners either online or offline. When this occurs, both sides might need to seek legal counsel. A poorly regulated social media presence could exacerbate this conflict, or a homeowner might take to their own social media account to discuss the problem. Issues that arise could include neighbor disputes, arguments about violations of the HOA's codes, or conflicts that occur between board members. It may be possible to settle these types of disputes outside of court.