J.S. from South Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a 65-unit condo for over 25 years. Our board, except for the President, has changed only a few times. There are two board members – a Vice President and a Secretary, that have been constant though the years. One of them is the wife of a former board President. My question is these two members constantly spread gossip about every owner they learn anything about through their board position! Who’s not paying their maintenance, who’s a drunk, residents who are facing foreclosures, and all sorts of private legal matters! Don’t these board people have some obligation to keeping their mouths shut regarding owners and their private business? I have heard more stories about my neighbor’s problems from these 2 board members then any old wash woman living here could have spread in a lifetime!
Mister Condo replies:
J.S., I am sorry that you live in a community where gossip runs rampant. To be honest with you, I think gossip is a regular side effect in any community where residents live so close to each other and often get into each other’s business, for better or for worse. As for the Board members, they should know better than to disclose information that is known to them because of their position on the Board. Technically, a unit owner who felt they were defamed or libeled against could seek legal recourse against the Board members and/or the association. However, that kind of lawsuit can be difficult to prove and might be difficult for the homeowner to file without substantial evidence and proof of harm to themselves. I would say that Board members who behave poorly should be replaced but if they run unchallenged for their positions on the Board, it is likely that they will continue in their gossiping ways. Unfortunately, it is often easier to dam a river than to stop gossip. My best advice is to not listen to any gossip that you hear and suggest to these gossipers that they may be bringing harm to themselves by revealing privileged information about their fellow unit owners. You would hope the simple phrase of doing unto others as they would like done unto them was taught to them as children. Sadly, too many of us have forgotten the Golden Rule. You and I don’t have to play their game though, do we? All the best!