The “Nextdoor” app provides neighborhoods with a private social
network which allows residents to communicate with each other about topics
relating to their community. To participate, you must create an account
which requires you prove your identity as well as show that you belong
to your submitted address. The app then allows you to share information
with neighbors ranging from reporting a lost dog, alerting others of a
recent break-in, or sharing contact information for good contractors or
babysitters. While “Nextdoor” has received much praise for the many benefits
it can provide to a community, Homeowner Associations must understand and be prepared for the complications
and conditions which are associated with this new technology.
The shift of neighborhood information sharing to the digital world has
fundamentally changed the nature of relations and dialogue between neighbors.
With this change, associations must adapt and be aware to the kind of
discussions permeating their communities. Sometimes, dialogue between
neighbors can be negative. Some commentators claim the “Nextdoor
breeds negativity.” They say the app is too often used to spur arguments and generate animosity
rather than to actually solve neighborhood problems. Additionally, there have been some reports of minority residents being
alerted as “suspicious” or reported to police with no real
Residents might also use the app to talk about their HOA or renting situation.
Whether their dialogue offers complaints or even a favorable comment about
their HOA, an association should be aware of its legal boundaries before
making any sort of response. For instance, residents may share information
about their assessment payments, disciplinary action, or other matters
that the Davis-Stirling Act requires the Association discuss in the privacy
of executive session. A comment from a Board member would be inappropriate
and a breach of confidence. Thus, while residents are legally allowed
to discuss the details of their personal matters and issues with other
homeowners, an HOA and its Board Members are not. The Association may,
however, use the app to understand the concerns its members and residents
have with regard to the community, and, therefore, use the app as a tool
to keep informed.
Of course the Association may also use the app to disseminate information
such as community events, reminders of rules, or impending maintenance.
The use of the app may assist in helping get notice to members who otherwise
ignored or discard mail from the Association. The Association may not,
however, do away with its “general notice” as the Civil Code
sets forth specific methods for general notice of items such as rule revisions
and meeting agendas. The “Nextdoor” app would not qualify
as a forum for “general notice,” but can be used nonetheless
to help publicize the association’s message.
Whether an association is keeping informed of community concerns or notifying
members of community enrichment, board members must remain aware of their
duties and responsibilities and the limits in which this new social media
may be used to broadcast information. If a question arises it is always
safe practice to consult with legal counsel before taking action or responding
to a homeowner issue.
 “About Nextdoor” at
 Jennifer Jolly, “Meet the Neighbors? There’s an App for That”
13 October 2015 at
 Nextdoor Website Breeds Negativity HOA Forum HOA Talk.com." HOA Talk,
22 May 2015 at
 See Nextdoor Website Breeds Negativity HOA Forum HOA Talk.com." HOA
Talk, 22 May 2015 at
 Levin, Sam T. "Racial Profiling Via Nextdoor.com."
East Bay Express. N.p., 07 Oct. 2015. at http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/racial-profiling-via-nextdoorcom/Content?oid=4526919.