Know the Rules Relating to Owner Document Requests
State laws lay out very specific requirements for how associations must respond to document inspection requests from their members. The requirements don’t only vary by state; they also can vary by type of association (for example, condo or homeowner). Managers and boards need to be well versed in the applicable mandates.
Among other things, the manager and the board must understand what can and can’t be provided, says Brad van Rooyen, president of HomeRiver Group-Florida, the management company for about 160 associations in the state.
In Florida, for example, certain documents aren’t available, including personnel records, medical records of owners and residents, and documents protected by attorney-client privilege. “Providing those inadvertently can set up the association for a potential lawsuit,” van Rooyen says.
In Michigan law, inspections are permitted only for a “proper purpose” — that is, a purpose reasonably related to an owner’s interest as an association member.
“You can deny a request if it would impair the privacy of the owners or impair the lawful purpose of the association,” says Kevin Hirzel, managing member of Hirzel Law, PLC, a Michigan-based firm that works with numerous community associations. “You also can deny if it’s not in the best interest of the association to permit an inspection.”
Under Florida law, on the other hand, condo associations and co-ops can’t even require owners to give reasons for their record inspection requests. That restriction took effect July 1, 2021, highlighting the need to stay up-to-date on the evolving statutory requirements and limits.
Handling document inspection requests from owners can be a hassle for community association managers, but it can go much more smoothly if you follow some simple rules. Read the full article now and learn how to improve the process for all involved: