As discussed in a previous blog post, found here, Florida Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations are required under Florida law to maintain their official records and allow members of the association to conduct records inspection upon request and proper notice. Associations receiving such a request need to move quickly to respond and provide the requested documents if they wish to avoid the possibility of liability. The right to inspect records is an important right of all association members and it is not something that is easily curtailed by any association. The right of an association member to conduct a records inspection is not absolute however. Florida Condominium and Homeowners’ Association law does provide for associations to implement certain “reasonable” rules and regulations with regard to the records inspection. The Legislature did this to balance the rights of association members with the interests of the associations.
What is considered “reasonable” when it comes to rules and regulations for records inspection? There are a plethora of opinions, both from the Courts and Department of Business and Professional Regulation Arbitrators, which address this very question. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer or one-size-fits-all solution to determining the reasonableness of a rule or regulation. What is considered “reasonable” is often dependent on the specific facts of each case, such as the size of the association, the sophistication of the association’s record keeping system, whether the association employs a management company, and the amount and content of the records being requested, just to name a few. For example, if a unit owner in a large association with a management company decided to challenge a rule limiting the amount of records inspection requests to three times a month as an unreasonable restraint on their right to inspect records, an arbitrator might decide that this is in fact an unreasonable rule that unduly restricts the unit owner’s rights to freely inspect the association records. At the same time, an arbitrator may decide that the same rule in a smaller association without a management company is reasonable because producing records so often creates a much greater burden on the association in terms of the work that needs to be done by volunteer Board Members in order to accommodate such a request.
While it is certainly in the best interest of each Florida Condominium and Homeowners’ Association to implement rules and regulations with regard to records inspection, associations must be cautious when doing so, as decisions tend to favor unit owners. For this reason, it is important for Florida Condominium and Homeowners’ Associations to have the guidance of knowledgeable and experienced Condominium and Homeowners’ Association attorneys who are familiar with the case law surrounding this topic and who can carefully draft effective rules and regulations for 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 its legal needs. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach us by telephone at (305) 507-9843.