Why Condominium Associations Should Establish an On-Site and Online Official Records Access Policy

December 1, 2017

 

Florida condominium associations are required to maintain a voluminous amount of official records under Florida Statutes 718.111(12) and must provide unit owners with the right to view and make copies of various documents under Florida Statute 718.111(12)(b) and 718.111(12)(c).

 

In a blog written by the Florida Condominium Association Advisors, it suggests that if a condominium association's official records are primarily available in hard copy and frequently requested by unit owners, it should scan and make its documents available online via the web. Therefore, it is prudent for condominium associations to create an on-site and online official records access policy which sets forth reasonable guidelines and rules regarding the frequency, time, location, notice and manner of record inspection requests made by a unit owner.

 

Florida Statutes 718.111(12) requires condominium associations to maintain the following records, if applicable, as official records of the association for at least 7 years:

 

“1.  A copy of the plans, permits, warranties, and other items provided by the developer pursuant to s. 718.301(4).

2.  A photocopy of the recorded declaration of condominium of each condominium operated by the association and each amendment to each declaration.

3.  A photocopy of the recorded bylaws of the association and each amendment to the bylaws.

4.  A certified copy of the articles of incorporation of the association, or other documents creating the association, and each amendment thereto.

5.  A copy of the current rules of the association.

6.  A book or books that contain the minutes of all meetings of the association, the board of administration, and the unit owners, which minutes must be retained for at least 7 years.

7.  A current roster of all unit owners and their mailing addresses, unit identifications, voting certifications, and, if known, telephone numbers. The association shall also maintain the electronic mailing addresses and facsimile numbers of unit owners consenting to receive notice by electronic transmission. The electronic mailing addresses and facsimile numbers are not accessible to unit owners if consent to receive notice by electronic transmission is not provided in accordance with sub-subparagraph (c)3.e. However, the association is not liable for an inadvertent disclosure of the electronic mail address or facsimile number for receiving electronic transmission of notices.

8.  All current insurance policies of the association and condominiums operated by the association.

9.  A current copy of any management agreement, lease, or other contract to which the association is a party or under which the association or the unit owners have an obligation or responsibility.

10. Bills of sale or transfer for all property owned by the association.

11.  Accounting records for the association and separate accounting records for each condominium that the association operates. . .

12. Ballots, sign-in sheets, voting proxies, and all other papers relating to voting by unit owners, which must be maintained for 1 year from the date of the election, vote, or meeting to which the document relates, notwithstanding paragraph (b).

13. All rental records if the association is acting as agent for the rental of condominium units.

14. A copy of the current question and answer sheet as described in s. 718.504.

15. All other written records of the association not specifically included in the foregoing which are related to the operation of the association.

16. A copy of the inspection report as described in s. 718.301(4)(p).

17. Bids for materials, equipment, or services.”

 

The association must respond to a unit owner’s request for official records within five business days after the board, or its designee, receives a written request from a unit owner and may opt to comply as follows:

  • make the official records available to the unit owner for inspection or copying at the condominium or association property; or

  • offer the unit owner the option of receiving the records electronically via the Internet; or

  • allow the records to be viewed in electronic format on a computer screen and printed upon request.

Florida Statutes 718.111(12)(c)1. directs the association to make all official records available for inspection at all reasonable times to each association member or their authorized representative.  A renter of an owner’s unit only has a right to inspect and copy the association’s bylaws and rules.

 

PENALTIES FOR NON-COMPLIANCE.  If an association fails to provide the records within ten (10) working days after receipt of a written request, the presumption is that the association willfully failed to comply with Florida Statutes 718.111(12).  This non-compliance entitles a unit owner to actual or minimum damages of “$50 per calendar day for up to 10 days, beginning on the 11th working day after receipt of the written request.” Additionally, if a unit owner files an enforcement action and prevails against the condominium association, the unit owner is entitled to “recover reasonable attorney fees from the person in control of the records who, directly or indirectly, knowingly denied access to the records.”

 

NON-ACCESSIBLE DOCUMENTS. The following documents are protected and should not be made available to unit owners:

  • work-products that are protected by attorney-client privilege or produced by Board members for their personal use;

  • information associated with the sale of a unit;

  • homeowner medical records and other confidential information such as Social Security numbers;

  • condominium association security information; and,

  • personnel records.

Since the Florida Statutes allows condominium associations to create reasonable rules surrounding access to its official records, it should establish a policy that ensures it processes each unit owner's document request consistently.

 

If you are a Central Florida community association manager or community association management company in need of legal advice, feel free to contact Kimberly Soto, Esq. at The Soto Law Office, P.A. for a free 15-minute consultation.

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