As a homeowner in a homeowners’ association, you may have questions regarding the activities or dealings of the association, including financial information. You have a legal right to view certain official records of the homeowners’ association. Your rights are governed by the applicable state’s laws regarding condominium or homeowners’ associations.
Generally, a homeowner or his or her designated representative has the right to review the records and request copies. The procedure for accessing the records may require a written request to schedule the time for viewing. The records you would like to review may be on the property premises or may be in a separate management office in another location.
You may or may not be required to indicate the purpose for your request to view the homeowners’ association documents, depending on state law and the records you want to view. You would generally be charged a reasonable fee for making copies of documents, and depending on state law, there could be a charge for supervising the viewing of the documents.
The records available to be viewed can include the document constituting the association and its by-laws and covenants. You will probably be provided with these records of the homeowners’ association when you purchase a property in the community. You could ask to see the agenda and minutes of meetings. As pointed out on the HOA Insider website, the financial records you may want to review could include financial statements including the balance sheet and income statement, budget, reserve account balances and payments from reserve accounts, general ledger, tax returns, invoices, payment register, executed contracts, purchase orders, and receipts.
As explained by Stephen Glassman and Donie Vanitzian in an article for the Los Angeles Times, according to the California Civil Code, the homeowners’ association, and not the board or management company, must make available the association’s records. You do not have to specify which documents you want to review, and access to the documents must be provided within the time frame established in the Code, generally 10 days. If you are unreasonably denied access, you could file an action in Small Claims court, and the court could award you costs and a certain amount for each request that is unreasonably denied.
In a post on the Virginia Condominium & Homeowners’ Association Law Blog, Mike Inman explains that in Virginia the homeowners’ association can require the request to be in writing, the purpose, the specific books and records to be viewed, and that the request is for a member’s noncommercial purposes. A reasonable charge can be made for the materials and labor involved in making copies. A cost schedule must be provided at the time of the request, and advance payment can be required. Certain records can be withheld from inspection due to confidentiality and other reasons.
As pointed out on the CCFJ Foundation, Inc. website, in Florida owners or their designated representatives can inspect the official records of the condominium within 5 days of a written request through certified mail. The condominium association cannot charge you for inspecting the records but can charge for copies.
If you want to have access to your homeowners’ association records, the property manager would be a good place to start. He or she may be able to provide access, explain how you should request access, or refer you to someone on the association’s board of directors who can help you. For information on the homeowners’ association laws in your state, the HOA-USA.com website provides links by state.
How to Get Association Records, HOA Insider
Mike Inman, Requests for Association records – What are the rules of the road? Virginia Condominium & Homeowners’ Association Law Blog
Record Request, CCFJ Foundation, Inc.
Stephen Glassman and Donie Vanitzian, Homeowners have legal right to review association’s records, Los Angeles Times