Florida Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations, like any other corporation, are required by law to maintain certain records, which may be subject to record inspection. These records include copies of the declaration and bylaws, the current rules of the association, minutes of all meetings, and current insurance policies, just to name a few examples, and all of the official records of the association must be maintained for at least 7 years. This requirement may seem burdensome, particularly to smaller associations that are self-managed, but the reason behind this requirement is that Florida law requires that Florida Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations make records available to all association members upon request. Because of these requirements, it is important that Florida Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations understand what is required of them when they receive requests from owners to inspect the records.
Florida Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations are required to keep records for at least 7 years, and these records must be made available to an owner within 45 miles of the association property or within the county in which the property is located. Upon request from a unit owner, the association must provide the records for record inspection within five working days. Failure to provide the records within ten working days of a request may entitle the requesting party to recover actual or minimum damages from the association in an enforcement action. An association that receives such a request should act quickly to respond to the request offering to arrange a time and place for inspection. The association may adopt reasonable rules regarding the time, locations, notice, and frequency of record inspections, but there are numerous factors to consider when determining what is “reasonable” and therefore it is recommended that associations consult knowledgeable and experienced Condominium and Homeowners’ Association attorneys before drafting any such rules and regulations.
While unit owners are entitled to perform record inspection all of the official records of an association, and it is wise for an association to not attempt to restrict such access, the right of a unit owner to inspect records is not absolute. For example, a unit owner must give the requisite notice to the association before an inspection can take place. There are also certain documents that may not be accessed by a unit owners, such as documents that are protected by attorney-client privilege, information obtained by an association in connection with the approval of the lease, sale, or other transfer of a unit, or personal information of other unit owners such as social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, or credit card information, to name some examples. Further, the association is not required to mail documents to a unit owner, and may charge a reasonable fee for making copies of records when such a request is made.
An association must have an understanding of what is proper and improper with regard to rules governing records inspections, as well as an understanding of what documents are considered “records” that must be produced upon request. With the amount of case law surrounding this topic, it is vital that Florida Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations seek the guidance of knowledgeable and experienced Condominium and Homeowners’ Association attorneys who are familiar with the requirements and obligations of associations with regard to records inspections.
At Shehadeh Giannamore, PLLC, we have the experience to handle the issues with the business interests of the Condominium Association in mind. Feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation to discuss how Shehadeh Giannamore, PLLC can help your Florida Condominium Association with record inspection or its legal needs generally. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach us by telephone at (305) 507-9843.