Inspections of Condo and HOA Official Records

November 15th, 2019

Posted in Business & Corporate Law,Real Estate Law

Condominium and homeowner’s associations are required to maintain the official records* of the association within the state for at least 7 years and make them available to the owners or their authorized representative for inspection within 45 miles of the community or within the same county.  For condominiums, Florida Statute § 718.111(12)(c) requires that the association provide access to the records within 10 business days of receiving a written request.  Failing to provide the records within the 10-day period creates a rebuttable presumption that the association willfully failed to provide the records and the requesting owner becomes entitled to damages in the minimum amount of $50.00 per day beginning on the 11th business day after the request. 

These statutory damages are applied for each day for up to 10 calendar days for a maximum amount of $500.00, unless actual damages are higher.  The association can also be held liable for the owner’s attorney fees if the failure to provide the records results in an enforcement action. 

An association can charge for its actual costs for preparing and furnishing the documents, however, it must permit the owner to inspect the records, scan, photograph or otherwise make copies of the records using a device of their own choosing.  There is an exception for certain records such as owners medical records and attorney-client or work product privilege, these records, in addition to the records listed in Florida Statute § 718.111(12)(c)(3)(a-g), are not accessible to owners.  Additionally, associations can adopt reasonable rules governing the frequency, time, location, notice and manner of inspections.

For homeowner’s associations, the requirements found in Florida Statute § 720.303(5) are very similar, however there are a few distinctions.  For example, the request to inspect the official records must not only be sent in writing, but also by certified mail, return receipt requested, in order to trigger the damages provisions in the statute.  Homeowner’s associations can also charge fees to cover the costs of providing copies, including personnel costs up to $20 per hour, if the amount of time necessary to retrieve the records exceeds one-half hour and results in an excess of 25 pages being copied.  Additionally, the association can charge up to 25 cents per page for copies made on the association’s photocopier.

Requests to inspect the official records of an association often come from owners who are unhappy with a certain decision or concerned with how the community has been operating.  Associations would be prudent to be respectful to owners making these requests and should make reasonable efforts to facilitate the inspection and copying of the records in order to avoid escalating the concerns by giving the perception of being uncooperative. 

The foregoing is a brief overview of the statutory requirements for condominiums and homeowner’s associations receiving requests from owners to inspect the official records of the association.  The Florida Statutes have many specific requirements and nuances that may be applicable to your specific situation that should be discussed with a legal professional.

*The list of documents required to be maintained as association Official Records can be found at Florida Statute § 718.111(12)(a) for condominiums, and § 720.303(4) for homeowner’s associations.

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