The Community Association Institute has an annual Law Seminar that many of our attorneys like to attend. It allows us to get out of the office, meet with colleagues in a less formal environment, and earn our annual continuing legal education credits with courses specific to our field. This year, the Law Seminar was in Las Vegas, at the Venetian. One thing I noticed was the presence of cameras everywhere.
Apparently, in Las Vegas, everything is under surveillance. A Las Vegas-area homeowner recently received a violation notice for a car parked in front of her property. The only problem – it wasn’t her car. The management company alleged that they had her home “under surveillance” and had seen someone park the offending car and enter the property.
As it turns out, the car belonged to a neighbor. Notwithstanding this information, the management company insisted the homeowner had to attend a violation hearing or be fined. The homeowner got the news involved, and eventually the management company and association relented, realizing they were in the wrong.
Association managers have a difficult job. They have to deal with people who deny responsibility for violations constantly. On occasion, however, the person denying responsibility genuinely is innocent of an infraction. Thus, it’s important for a manager to be willing to admit when he or she is wrong. It saves the association time and money, and helps foster good will in the community.
There’s also something to be said for semantics. If the manager had said “We do a regular drive through the neighborhood” rather than “we perform surveillance,” the homeowner may have never contacted the news station. While we can’t tell from the article that the manager actually used the word “surveillance,” it’s important to recognize the power of words. Tact and diplomacy will serve an association well. Especially where, as here, the association was in the wrong. Keep your owners from feeling like Oceania residents – use plain English!