Mandate a Civility Rule – Dealing with Problem Members
By Hans G. Huessy, Esq.
[Published in Condo Media magazine – August 2019 Issue]
Sometimes an association will have one or two members who refuse to act civilly. Their actions can make it harder to find people willing to serve on the board of directors and committees. They can also make all meetings take longer and be more unpleasant than necessary.
Under Vermont’s Open Meeting requirements, it is difficult to curtail participation in any meaningful fashion. So what can be done about such members?
One option is to adopt an association rule that mandates civility.
• Such a rule should provide for step-by-step, incremental enforcement, starting with a warning and rising to being asked to leave the meeting.
• Enforcing such a rule must be done carefully, and the unpleasant behavior should be documented (ideally recorded) prior to taking any action.
• Kicking someone off a conference call, or muting them, can be easily done if you use a service with those features. Physically removing someone from a meeting is much more difficult and likely requires hiring security personnel to escort them out.
• The rule should include incremental fines and the right to recover the costs of security from those who violate the rule.
If the association establishes a schedule of incremental material fines, and carefully documents the behavior, it should effectively deter such conduct.