A blog reader recently asked me what I thought about boards mentioning the names of delinquent owners at meetings when the question "who isn't paying their assessments?" is raised.
I advised that some boards handle this situation much more sensitively than others, preferring not to humiliate or punish anyone but merely conveying the specific information requested. For instance, a response to "how many delinquencies do we have?" can very easily be "we currently have 7 homes not paying and these files have been sent to legal." That question does not require the disclosure of specific names or property addresses.
What if, however, the questioner did ask the board to name names? Should they?
Publishing a "dunning" list of delinquent owners is never advisable as the information can be/become inaccurate while the list is still posted. Doing so could expose a board to potential defamation claims. However, responding to a question at a meeting from a member who has the right to know the specifics of his or her association's financial health is a different matter entirely.
This reader was incensed over the practice as she was delinquent in her assessments as a result of having financial difficulties that were exacerbated, in her opinion, by job market issues. The reader asked if the law could be changed to prevent boards from advising community members of the names of the delinquent members. She suggested instead that the boards "discuss the names privately and just give a lump sum at the general board of directors meeting."
Naturally, this owner can contact her local State Representative and/or State Senator and request that he or she give some thought to changing the law next year. Her public policy makers might be receptive to her request and we could see a proposal next Session which prohibits boards from disclosing the names of the people who owe the association money to the general membership. That is how new association laws are made each year.
What do you think? Should boards alone have access to the names of the association members who are not paying their dues or should that information be disseminated to the members requesting same? Does naming names encourage folks to pay their assessments timely or is it simply designed to embarrass people or does it accomplish both?