Sometimes a complaining witness wants to be anonymous so as to avoid a confrontation with the person who is in violation of the rules. To hold a disciplinary hearing and fine an owner based on anonymous testimony would be a violation of the accused owner's due process rights. Without any evidence of a violation, disciplinary hearings cannot be held.
Verification of the Violation. However, witnesses may remain anonymous and hearings still be held if the association can independently verify the violation, i.e., through a security camera recording, an employee's first-hand report, a board member verifying the violation, etc. If an association can develop sufficient evidence on its own, then the neighbor's identity is no longer needed for the hearing and does not need to be revealed to the accused. If an employee, security officer or managing agent is the "witness" to the violation, they need to be at the hearing to provide testimony of the violation.
MULTIPLE ANONYMOUS COMPLAINTS
QUESTION: I know you've had a lot of comments already about owners' due process rights when there are violation complaints. If we have a number of owners complaining about the same thing, does someone from the board have to see/hear it for themselves to verify it, or can we take them at their word?
ANSWER: Because people have the right to know the evidence against them, telling the accused that two or three owners anonymously complained is not sufficient evidence to discipline a member. If the complaining parties refuse to be identified and the board cannot independently verify the violation, penalties cannot be levied.
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.