Should a Board of Directors Name Names When It Comes to Delinquencies?
By Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq.
A reader recently asked if boards should mention the names of delinquent owners at meetings when the question is raised.
Some boards handle this situation more sensitively than others, preferring to convey the information in a tactful manner. For instance, a response to “how many delinquencies do we have?” can very easily be “we currently have seven 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 also 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.
The reader who posed the question was incensed over the practice as she was delinquent in her assessments as a result of having lost her job. She asked if the law could be changed to prevent boards from releasing the names of delinquent members. She suggested instead that the boards “discuss the names privately and just give a lump sum at the board meeting.”
Naturally, this owner can contact her Representative or Senator and request that he or she change the law next year. These folks might be receptive to her request and we could see a proposal next Session which prohibits boards from disclosing the names of delinquent owners to the general membership. That is how new association laws are made each year.
Once the matter has been sent to the attorney, the resulting paperwork becomes public record. Until that time, 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?
Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq. is one of the Founding Partners of the statewide law firm, Katzman Garfinkel & Berger (KG&B), a firm that devotes its practice to the representation of community associations. Ms. Berger can be reached directly at 954-315-0372 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.