Homeowners associations, also referred to as HOAs, usually have the power to charge and enforce collection of maintenance fees from the homeowners in a residential development, such as a co-op or planned unit development. These fees typically are due monthly or annually and are used to maintain common property like a community pool and parking areas.
Reporting Payment History
Most people are familiar with credit reports, which are like a transcript detailing a person's history of loans, credit accounts, payments and other information. These reports are put together and transmitted to others by credit agencies, also called credit bureaus. The three large national bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. A business that is properly registered with these bureaus can report payment history of a customer or client, both good or bad. Obviously, making late payments is considered bad and can be reported.
Real Estate Payments
The national credit bureaus are mostly concerned with and actively seek out credit history and payment details of a traditional nature, namely of actual loans, credit cards and public payment information. Mortgage payment and property tax payment histories are therefore usually included in such a traditional report. Payments for monthly or other fees to a HOA are usually not. However, if the HOA properly registers and reports late payments of a homeowner, then such information can show up on an individual's credit report.
Specialized Credit Bureau
Many HOAs do not have the personnel or expertise to register with the traditional credit bureaus and thus do not report late payments directly. However, newer specialized credit bureaus exist which actively seek out and report non-traditional real estate-related payment information, such as rent payments and HOA fee payments. CoreLogic is a larger, nationwide example of such a credit bureau. Through their activities, HOA late payments will start showing up on credit reports that they compile and send out.
Even if the HOA does not report directly or indirectly through a specialized credit bureau, HOAs can and often do use the services of credit collection agencies to secure fee payments. Usually, these credit collection agencies are registered with the traditional credit bureaus and report the late payments to them. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act provides protections and rights for people whose information is listed on a credit report from a traditional or specialized credit bureau. This includes your right to get a copy of your credit report and to officially register a dispute regarding any of the contained information.
Kerry Zias has been a strategic business consultant and college instructor of business administration courses since 1990. He has taught courses and performed professional consulting work in the areas of marketing, management, business start-ups, entrepreneurship, real estate, sales psychology and performance, business communications, business law and political/governmental relations. Zias holds a Master of Business Administration in marketing from National University.