C.S. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
How can the association get Unit Owners and residents to complete annual Emergency Contact Information forms? Approximately 25% return forms and only 15% of those are completely filled out. Thank you.
Mister Condo replies:
C.S., public relations is certainly a part of good community association governance. When unit owners do not comply with association requirements for items that are required of them such as the form you are describing, two things should happen. First, the Board should evaluate whether or not the information being asked for is completely necessary. Second, if it is deemed necessary, the Board should mount a campaign to make sure that the information is collected. There are a few ways to do this.
If you have a property management company, you can assign this task to your property manager and understand that you may need to pay your property manager for the extra work. A campaign of letters, emails, and phone calls should then ensue and my guess is that you will be able to collect at least one half or more of the unit owners information that you seek.
If the completion of the forms is in the association’s rules or by-laws, you can add a little meat to the request by also implementing a fine for not submitting the required form, providing there is a resolution previously passed by the Board to issue fines for non-compliance. It doesn’t need to be a large fine. I would think $25 or so will do. Forms that are submitted incomplete should be returned to the submitter along with a note stating that ALL information is required and that the submission of an incomplete form does not satisfy the requirement of submitting the completed form. Keep in mind that once the Board issues the ultimatum that there will be fines for non-compliance; all of the usual rules for assessing fines are in place. A warning letter requiring the unit owner to appear before for the Board is required before issuing a fine. Then it is just a matter of following procedure. Nobody likes to get a fine and those that do and still refuse to submit your emergency contact form are not going to fill out your form regardless of what actions you take against them. This more aggressive action requires that the Board take resolve in getting these forms completed and submitted. The Board must stand firm in their resolve or this approach will not work. All the best!