The success of an association, in large part, depends on its fiscal wellbeing. Associations rely on its members to pay their dues in order to ensure maintenance of all the common areas that owners not only enjoy, but that increase property value. What follows are eight techniques for keeping your association’s delinquencies at a minimum:
1. Know your owners. An owner that feels like they belong to a community is more likely to feel a sense of community pride and therefore more likely to pay. A community garage sale, a pizza party, or ice cream socials are amongst the biggest hits within a community and are great ways to get to know you fellow association members.
2. Adopt a collection policy. All associations should have a collection policy so that they can act quickly in the event that an owner fails to pay his or her dues. A collection policy delineates the process that must be followed when an owner is delinquent and also codifies late fees and interest rates.
3. Be consistent. Ensure that all owners are treated the same. Having a collection policy in place that is strictly followed assures equal treatment and also lays out clear expectations for owners. Once the word gets out within the community that the association means business, owners will be more likely to pay. Unfortunately, if an owner knows that he or she can get away without paying the association, it’s likely to be the lowest bill in their priorities.
4. Be observant. If it becomes time to take collection action against an owner, it is helpful to know where a delinquent owner works. Often, where a person works is right before our eyes. Company names can be found on vehicles, online, or even on clothing worn by the owner.
5. Enter into payment plans. In this tight economic climate, owners often find themselves in a position where they simply are not able to meet their financial obligations. Setting up a stringent payment plan—with consequences in the event of breach—is a way to get some funds in the door for a short period of time.
6. Cut off access to amenities. An owner’s biggest motivator to pay assessments is use of the common areas. No owner likes the feeling of trying to enter the pool only to be denied, or to wave his or her key fob in front of others and be denied access to the workout facility. In order to cut off access to amenities, a resolution will need to be passed.
7. Auto pay. Offering owners the ability to pay automatically each month reduces the chances that an owner will not pay. If you can get an owner to sign up for auto payment, you never have to wait for the owner to make a payment.
8. Credit Cards. Owners that do not have cash often have the ability to pay their assessments via credit card. Associations that offer a vast array of payment methods have lower delinquency rates.