Bloggers were asked to address record inspection issues this week. There’s been some recent discussion of privacy rights, since the condo statute was amended in 2010 to prohibit access to owners’ telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and other “personal identifying information”.
The 2010 amendment upset many association leaders and residents because it essentially put an end to directories, telephone books, e-mail group lists, and other helpful resources that build community. The 2010 condo statute did not say whether or not this information could be published if the owner signed a waiver form. Now, the 2011 statute permits owners to authorize disclosure of this information, provided that their consent is evidenced in writing.
Ok – so maybe owners don’t want to share their telephone numbers or email address and they have the right to keep that information private (along with their social security numbers, credit card numbers, medical conditions and the like), but they have no choice when it comes to their payment history.
We all know (or should know) that the association cannot publish debtor lists or otherwise violate the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act but that doesn’t mean you, as an owner of a property and a member of the association, aren’t entitled to see the financial records.
The financial records of a condominium or homeowners association specifically include ledgers reflecting the account status of each of the owners. Condo and homeowners associations are required to keep records that reflect the payment history for each member, designating the name of the owner, the due date and amount of each assessment, the amount paid on the account, and the balance due.
Community associations are likewise required to make this information available for inspection by other owners within specific time frames.
The logistics associated with records access vary from community to community based on the rules and regulations adopted by the board. Some associations require requests to be made by certified mail and that rule was upheld by the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes in an arbtration matter.
Some associations have inspections conducted at the management office, others have the records on site. Some associations require inspections during business hours, others allow inspections to take place on weekends or evenings. I often have to remind community leaders that the official records must be maintained within the state.
It doesn’t matter if your treasurer lives in Michigan the bulk of the year. The official records belong to the corporate entity and must be maintained within the state – copies can be sent outside the state to facilitate ongoing operations if necessary. As mentioned in Charlotte’s post, storing records electronically can be a real time-saver as well as contain costs.
Allowing access to records on the Internet (password protected) reduces, and can even eliminate, the need for supervision and the labor involved in making copies of requested documents.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation publishes a guide regarding official records and inspection obligations that is tailored to condo associations but likewise helpful in the HOA context. The guide is a useful tool for both community leaders and individual owners.
It is available on the web at:
by: Gary Poliakoff – Sun-Sentine