Mitch Drimmer is a respected thought leader in his field and has led numerous continuing education classes in collections, His articles have been published in key trade journals and newspapers, and he is a speaker at educational seminars. Drimmer is also a former board member of the Florida Community Association Professionals (FCAP) and earned his company the distinguished FCAP Reader’s Choice Award for collections four years in a row. Throughout his career, Drimmer has worked with community associations to help them see their way through tough times, especially during the real estate crash. He is a passionate advocate for community associations and has participated in the legislative process over the years trying to bring fair and equitable legislation that serves community associations.
Drimmer earned a BA in History from Hunter College and served as CEO of Drimmer Industries, Inc. in New York City for 35 years.
Every day I am astounded about how little information boards of directors and management companies have regarding the status of their associations, specifically rosters of owners with proper addresses phone numbers & contact information, aging of accounts, status of occupants (are they renters or owners), mortgage registries and even ownership of properties. Are unit owners in bankruptcy, alive or dead? Yes, I have seen situations where management and boards do not even know if an owner has passed away and what the status of that property is.
So how does management and board of directors know what is what, who is who, and obtain all the pertinent information to keep operations running smoothly? The first thing to know is what information is necessary to have and the second thing is to find it and most importantly have a policy to keep it current. This is important not only for community association collections but for good community governance as well.
What Every Association Needs To Know
· The first item of gathering information is a roster of the owners of the association and all of their contact information.
· A bank mortgage registry. What banks have mortgages on the units (if any) and how much are these first mortgage loans for.
· The holder of the certificate of title of each and every unit in your association.
· Bankruptcy information on an owner.
· Is the unit owner alive or dead and is the property in probate or not.
· Foreclosure information on a unit and a case history of where this action is at.
· Is the tenant in the property a unit owner or a renter. There is no such thing as a house sitter living in a property rent free.
· Is there a squatter in the unit and is that person seeking “adverse possession” because it happens.
· Have the taxes been paid by the owners and are there tax lien or tax deed activity going on.
· The aging of the accounts receivable and are your ledgers accurate with all late fees, late interest, fines and violations properly applied.
Most of this information is available on the public records and can easily be obtained. Some information requires an investigation of information that is out there but is not easily found. A lot of this information requires a serious survey by the association’s management be it self-managed association or one with a management company. A policy needs to be established that states clearly what information is required, the methodology on how it is obtained, how often is it refreshed, how it is kept, who has access to it and who is tasked to maintain this policy.
The maintenance of this information is not a violation of privacy rights but is most certainly the right of the community association to have. Not knowing what is what, who is who and where everything is puts your association in harm’s way. Yes, it’s a good thing to communicate well with everybody and be transparent about all of the dealings in a community association but you cannot do it properly if the board of directors and management are working in the dark. Good communication depends on having the fact pattern right and the board and management knowing what they are talking about.