Reprinted with permission from the November/December 2015 issue of Common GroundTM magazine, the flagship publication of Community Associations Institute (CAI). www.caionline.org/cg
Q: More than a quarter of the owners in our 143-home association are delinquent paying their assessments. Is it possible to report these delinquent debts to a credit bureau? —North Carolina
A: While it might sound attractive for your homeowners association to report the delinquent debts to one or more of the consumer-credit reporting agencies, such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, as a collection tool, your community would have to be a member of the bureaus to do so.
Only members can report information on consumer debts and obtain credit reports from these agencies. The membership, security and legal requirements are extensive, and even if your association could clear those hurdles, you’d likely find it to be cost-prohibitive. I’ve never known one of my clients to apply for membership to one of the credit bureaus. Though I’ve never personally made an inquiry, my understanding is that the bureaus don’t accept reports directly from associations, but they may accept reports from management companies or collection agencies working on behalf of associations.
Credit bureaus often obtain and report information on a consumer’s debt from federal and state court records, which are open to the public. Thus, by filing a lien on the owner’s property, filing a foreclosure or obtaining a judgment against the owner in small claims court, there’s a good chance that those records will eventually appear in the owner’s credit reports. However, there’s nothing you can do to ensure this will happen.
ABOUT MIKE HUNTER
Mike’s background includes real estate and litigation, with a concentration in the area of creditors’ rights, including debt collection, bankruptcy, foreclosure, lien enforcement, and collateral recovery.
From 1995 to 2006, Mike served as an assistant attorney for the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, primarily in the areas of civil process and judgment enforcement.
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