Open Access Neighbor Info

Boards are currently required to disclose to owners contact info for their fellow owners.  However, acquisition is often difficult, with some Boards, agents & attorneys deliberately creating roadblocks.  Obtaining a list usually involves visiting the management office, & most owners find that photocopying is prohibited (manual transcription—even where hundreds or thousands of units are involved—seems like arbitrary punishment: you can have the data…but it’s going to hurt).  Further—email addresses (which did not exist when the BCL rule was written) are never revealed.  We think that’s silly.

The intent of the BCL seems clear: owners are entitled to learn the identity of their fellow owners, including (in the case of absentee owners) where they live.  The reason could be almost anything (except selling the information to 3rd parties); typically, it’s because owners want to broadly discuss building finances, amending the by-laws, or something similar.  Whatever contact info owners provide to Boards or agents—including phone numbers & email addresses—must be made available on request…promptly, efficiently, & completely.

We’ve heard many arguments along the lines of “but people don’t want to be bothered;” frankly, with today’s technology it’s far easier to screen, filter, or “blacklist” inbound offensive email or even voice messages than it is to stop postal mail.  And most owners we’ve polled prefer any of these methods of contact to having notes slipped under, or taped to, their front doors (which Boards cannot effectively regulate).

Safeguards can & should be built in to discourage/penalize abuse, e.g. to ensure that data is not used commercially or shared outside the association.  Owners could also “opt-out” if they wish to be contacted only in an emergency.  With these simple provisions, this information can & must be shared to prevent the obstruction of open discourse in the community.

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