Chat room risks out­weigh ben­e­fits

Strata coun­cil may en­counter prob­lems that will fuel con­flicts, face po­ten­tial law­suits

The Province - - HOMES - Tony Gioventu is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Con­do­minium Home Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. Email [email protected]

Dear Tony: Two of our strata coun­cil mem­bers started a Face­book page in 2016 and it has been noth­ing but a source of con­flict ever since.

A good ex­am­ple would be the “pool in­ci­dent” this past Au­gust.

Our strata cor­po­ra­tion is mul­ti­ple build­ings over 200 units with a va­ri­ety of cul­tures and tra­di­tions and not every­one uses the recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties in the same man­ner.

But we do have a pub­lished rule that every­one must be ap­pro­pri­ately dressed at all times when in the pool, hot tubs or steam rooms.

As a re­sult of a dis­pute over what is “ap­pro­pri­ate”, one owner de­cided to take pho­to­graphs of sev­eral res­i­dents at the pool, post them on our Face­book ac­count and ask for every­one’s feed­back of which bathing suits or cloth­ing would be deemed ap­pro­pri­ate.

The res­i­dents whose pic­tures were posted were fu­ri­ous and threat­ened to sue the strata cor­po­ra­tion.

The whole thing ig­nited an­other round of cul­tural and racial ex­changes.

This is only one of many prob­lems that has been caused by our Face­book page. How do we force coun­cil to close down our Face­book page?

Allen Don­ald­son

Dear Allen: The risks with Face­book or any web­site where users may add, post or re­spond to in­for­ma­tion is that it is im­pos­si­ble to pre­vent mis­use of the site.

As a re­sult, the strata cor­po­ra­tion may en­counter a se­ries of prob­lems that will fuel con­flicts and dis­crim­i­na­tion and place your strata cor­po­ra­tion in a po­si­tion where the in­di­vid­u­als who have been tar­geted and iden­ti­fied may have a valid claim against the strata cor­po­ra­tion.

These claims could be for po­ten­tial hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, pri­vacy breaches, se­cu­rity breaches, and claims for dam­ages where an owner, ten­ant, oc­cu­pant or vis­i­tor may have ex­pe­ri­enced some level of per­sonal loss or dam­ages.

Every­one in a strata cor­po­ra­tion needs to re­mem­ber that when your strata cor­po­ra­tion is sued, you all pay.

If your own­ers want the site closed or coun­cil wants to close a site that is not hosted by the cor­po­ra­tion but is rep­re­sent­ing your strata cor­po­ra­tion, pe­ti­tion for or con­vene a spe­cial gen­eral meet­ing to vote by ma­jor­ity vote to can­cel or re­move the site. If the par­ties don’t com­ply, file a claim with the Civil Res­o­lu­tion Tri­bunal or­der­ing the site be closed.

Web­sites are ex­cel­lent re­sources for strata cor­po­ra­tions. If they are main­tained by the strata cor­po­ra­tion, changes of coun­cil or man­age­ment will not af­fect the site.

Web­sites are best used to store his­toric and ac­tive doc­u­ments to en­sure a strata cor­po­ra­tion has a cor­po­rate mem­ory and to fa­cil­i­tate op­er­a­tions and man­age­ment.

They can also be used to com­mu­ni­cate with own­ers and ten­ants and pro­vide a por­tal for own­ers and ten­ants to no­tify the strata coun­cil or strata man­ager if there are main­te­nance is­sues.

While the con­cept of pro­vid­ing a chat room for own­ers al­ways starts out with the right in­ten­tions, it in­evitably winds up be­ing hi­jacked by an owner who is us­ing the site to dis­credit or ha­rass the strata coun­cil, the man­ager or to tar­get spe­cific own­ers.

The risks of mis­use on chat sites far out­weighs the ben­e­fits.

Be­fore your strata coun­cil cre­ates a Face­book page or any other pub­lic me­dia for­mat, es­tab­lish terms and con­di­tions that ad­dress the fol­low­ing is­sues:

the type of in­for­ma­tion that will be posted to the site, who will have ac­cess to the site, whether the site will con­tain a chat room,

if the site will be used to re­lay gen­eral in­for­ma­tion to own­ers, ten­ants and oc­cu­pants, and

terms defin­ing un­der what con­di­tions a user may have their ac­cess re­voked.

Strata cor­po­ra­tions man­age sig­nif­i­cant amounts of per­sonal and pro­pri­etary in­for­ma­tion.

Do not pub­lish any per­sonal in­for­ma­tion or in­for­ma­tion that may be in vi­o­la­tion of the Per­sonal In­for­ma­tion Pro­tec­tion Act or pose a se­cu­rity risk to the own­ers, ten­ants and oc­cu­pants of your com­mu­nity.

One of the prob­lems that fre­quently oc­curs with strata so­cial me­dia or from strata web­sites is the as­sump­tion that the in­for­ma­tion on those sites is ac­cu­rate and po­ten­tial buy­ers may rely upon the in­for­ma­tion posted to the site.

Clearly iden­tify on your site that any in­for­ma­tion hosted on the web­site is not to be used for the pur­pose of dis­clo­sure or to re­place a Form B In­for­ma­tion Cer­tifi­cate and that buy­ers are ad­vised to con­tact the strata cor­po­ra­tion or strata man­ager to ob­tain of­fi­cial doc­u­ments.

Every­one in a strata cor­po­ra­tion needs to re­mem­ber that when your strata cor­po­ra­tion is sued, you all pay.”

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