We just finished a busy two week stretch of very well attended seminars. Thanks to our friends at Paradise Bay Estates in Bradenton, Imperial Bonita Estates in Bonita Springs, Village at Riverwalk in North Port, and Hammock Estates in Sebring for hosting those events.
One of the topics we discussed involved how to balance the rights of a member of a resident owned community to inspect and copy the association’s "official records" with the rights of each resident of the community to have certain information remain confidential and protected.
I wanted to highlight several important points made during my presentation on this topic:
- Almost any document currently located in the association’s offices falls within the definition of an "official record" under the Florida Statutes governing condominium, cooperative, and mandatory homeowners’ associations.
- However, certain documents that are "official’ records are nonetheless protected or :"exempt" and even if a member requests to inspect those documents the association shall not allow that member access to those records.
- Florida’s legislators recently amended the statutes governing condominium and mandatory homeowners’ associations and added several new categories of these protected or "exempt" documents. However, the legislators failed to amend the statute governing cooperative associations and, as a result, a member of a cooperative association may still be entitled to inspect personnel records as well as obtain information about other residents–such as email addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and northern addresses–that are now clearly "off limits" to members of condominium associations or mandatory homeowners associations.
- All managers and board members should remember that a member cannot simply show up in the office one day and demand that he immediately be allowed to inspect one or more of the association’s "official records". There is a specific procedure that is to be followed under Florida’s statutes and all members should be required to follow those procedures.
We always suggest that any request to inspect an association’s "official records" be immediately forwarded to the association’s attorney. The attorney can help the association properly evaluate and respond to request and assist in ensuring that the association complies with Florida’s statutory requirements while not violating its members’ privacy rights.
The dates, locations and topics for our January seminars will be announced within the next week. Stay tuned and try to keep warm!