My association publishes meeting minutes that include the names, delinquent assessment amounts and unit addresses of individual owners who are behind with their assessment payments, and also publishes the units that are being foreclosed on, either by the mortgage company or the association. Is this ok?

Well, I’m going to cop out of this answer slightly, and not address the “is it ok” question, but instead answer “Is this a good idea?”   All homeowners are members of the association and have a right to review the association’s books and records.  They are able to see what units are behind in their assessments.  It would also be permissible for the association to send out a newsletter or post a notice on an inside bulletin board  listing which units are delinquent.

It should be noted that although associations have the right to inform members of delinquent accounts, it could open itself up to a heap of trouble if it incorrectly lists an owner as delinquent.  Should the association state that owner X was delinquent and in fact X was current, the association could be sued for defamation. Most associations that have addressed this issue of public shaming have decided that it is not worth the risks of wrongly stating the status of an account. In my opinion, the benefit does not outweigh the risk.

A version of this article first appeared in the "Ask the Attorney" column (written by Nigel Mendez) in the Minnesota Community Living magazine published by CAI-MN.