“The Internet is clearly about more than sports scores and email now.

It's a place where we can conduct our democracy and get very large amounts of data to very large numbers of people.”

—Frank James
If the property manager and the board are making it too difficult to canvas the owners in the building by going door-to-door or by meeting owners in the lobby or the mail room, then you don’t have to give up, you work around these anti-democratic restrictions.

You can conduct an information picket of the corporation by carrying picket signs on the sidewalk in front of the building and handing out leaflets to the residents as they drive onto and off the property. This is a really big hassle but it does work and it really upsets the board.

You can communicate with the owners by e-mail. All you need is their e-mail addresses. If you don’t have e-mail addresses for all the owners, and most likely you will not, then you can host a website.

A well designed website will drive the board nuts. As long as you are not libelous, there is no way they can stop you from hosting a site and there is no way that they can stop your message from getting through to all the owners; and to all the renters, to all the contractors and to all the employees.

They also cannot stop anyone on the planet who has an interest in your condo from reading what you have to say whether they be real estate agents, potential buyers, people in the neighbourhood, city officials or politicians.

The best feature of a well-run website is that the absentee owners can keep track of what is going on with their investment. Once they learn about your site, they will keep returning every once in a while to stay current with the corporation’s affairs.

I do not believe in restricting access to the website, by use of a password, to the condo’s residents and absentee owners. First of all, you don’t know how to get in touch with many of these owners so why would you want to block any chance of having any of them get in touch with you?

Hurting property values
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,
but rather reprove them.

—Ephesians 5:11

This is the biggest complaint from the board and some of the owners. If your opposition to the board is accurate, then it is not you who is damaging the long-term value of the real estate—it is them.

I suggest that they just want to hide their mismanagement and pretend there are no serious problems with the management, finances, structure or maintenance of the property.

Hiding the issues may help the owners who want to sell in the short term but their private gain comes at the cost of all the owners who remain for the long term and to the innocent people who buy in a troubled corporation.

Take the high road
With a website the big temptation is to turn it into a gossip tabloid like the National Inquirer and to make it “interesting” by publishing personal attacks against both individuals and companies. This is always a mistake.

Here is a partial list of words to ban from the site:

• dumb, idiot, moron, retarded, stunned, stupid
• corrupt, criminal, crook, stealing
• dishonest, immoral, liar, sneaky
• incompetent, illegal
• criminal, drunk, drug addict, gang, goon, thugs

You get the idea. Stick to facts and issues and stay away from insults and
cheap put-downs.

Novelty wears off
Setting up a website takes a lot of work. Keeping it updated with fresh material is an even bigger task. After an initial burst of enthusiasm, most condo websites die a sure death from neglect.

There are hundreds of condo owner websites on the net but most have not been updated in a year or more.

Keep in mind that if you do not regularly update your site, your readers will stop going back to it.

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