Civility plays a critical role in maintaining positive relationships within community associations. It can facilitate conflict resolution, enhance decision-making, preserve property values, promote community engagement, and align with both ethical and legal considerations.

Additionally, board members are responsible for maintaining and enhancing the value of properties within the association. A civil atmosphere encourages fellow owners to take pride in their homes, abide by community rules, and work together to preserve property values.

Below are seven things board members and association leaders should know about civility to best serve their condominium, homeowner (HOA), and townhome associations.


1. Conflict Resolution – Board members and property managers often deal with disagreements and conflicts among themselves and with other homeowners. Conflicts can arise from a variety of issues, including:

  • Board governance (ex. vendor vetting, community event planning)
  • Assessments and fines (ex. failure to pay dues on time)
  • Rules and regulations (ex. pet policies, short term rentals)
  • Nuisance complaints (ex. smoking, odors, marijuana)
  • Architectural control (ex. paint colors, fencing, landscaping)
  • Use of common areas (ex. dog walks, pools, fitness centers)
  • Parking disputes (ex. assigned spots, visitor spaces)

Civility is crucial in these situations because it encourages constructive communication to find mutually beneficial solutions and avoid escalating tensions. Enforcing association policies while seeking common ground preserves relationships and helps ensures that the community’s interests are properly represented.


2. Use Respectful Communication – Prioritize respectful and courteous communication with residents, fellow board members, and community stakeholders. Bullying and intimidation is ineffective and improper. Threatening behavior closes communication and potentially opens up legal issues. Board members should utilize active listening, using appropriate language, and refraining from personal attacks. It creates an atmosphere of trust and collaboration, essential factors to effectively manage an association.


3. Be Fair and Impartial – Board members should avoid favoritism or bias, treating owners equally while administering association business. Transparency and objective decision-making foster an atmosphere of trust that encourages owners to engage with the board and actively participate in community initiatives.


4. Be Open-Minded – Board members should offer feedback that focuses on the association issues at hand, offering potential solutions rather than defensive posturing or unproductive back-and-forth. Boards that encourage diverse opinions and viewpoints can lead to better association administration and a more rewarding experience.

Avoid being rigid in decision-making. Encourage brainstorming sessions. Evaluate owner feedback. Listen to one another. Foster an environment where respectful debate and discussion are encouraged. Allow board members to express their opinions, challenge ideas constructively, and engage in healthy discourse.


5. Be Professional – Board members should maintain a level of professionalism in their interactions and conduct. This includes being punctual, adhering to ethical standards, being prepared for meetings, and following the association’s governing documents.

Maintaining professionalism and integrity sets a standard for board member conduct. It also reinforces the board’s credibility and reputation within the community.


6. Avoid Conflicts of Interest – If conflicts of interest are not appropriately managed or disclosed, they can lead to allegations of impropriety and potential legal challenges. Moreover, conflicts of interest can impact financial decisions (ex. vendor selection, contract negotiations), potentially resulting in higher costs or compromised services for the community.

The board should develop and implement clear association policies and guidelines, outlining expectations for board members to disclose potential conflicts. This includes personal, financial, or professional relationships that could influence their decision-making or create a perception of bias.


7. Allow for Inclusivity and Diversity – Board members should encourage participation from all community members, regardless of their background. Create a welcoming environment for everyone. This can be done through surveys, open forums, or designated times for resident input during association meetings.

When residents feel heard and valued, they are more likely to actively contribute to better the community, attend meetings, and provide input on important association matters.


Legal Resource

Boards are staffed by association owners who volunteer their time and efforts to manage their community. These volunteers come from all walks of life and have different perspectives. Their actions set the tone, establish expectations, and inspire residents to work together for the betterment of the community association.

Ultimately, civility among board members can help build a stronger, well-governed community association.

Do not hesitate to contact our law firm if your association has questions regarding the board’s fiduciary duties, potential conflicts of interest, updates to association rules, or other legal concerns.

Please call 855-537-0500 or visit

Since 1983, KSN has been a legal resource for condominium, homeowner, and townhome associations. Additionally, we represent clients in real estate transactions, collectionslandlord/tenant issues, and property tax appeals. We represent thousands of clients and community associations throughout the US with offices in several states including Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.


Please note the material contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by your review or receipt of the information contained in this article. You should not act on the information discussed in this article without first obtaining legal advice from an attorney duly licensed to practice law in your State. While KSN has made every effort to include up-to-date information in this article, the law can change quickly. Accordingly, please understand that information discussed in this article may not yet reflect the most recent legal developments. Material is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up to date. KSN reserves the right to revise or update the information and statements of law discussed in the article law at any time, without notice, and disclaims any liability for your use of information or statements of law discussed on the article, or the accessibility of the article generally. This article may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions under applicable law/s and/or ethical rules/regulations. © 2024 Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit, A Professional Corporation.