MAINTENANCE AND RETENTION OF OFFICIAL RECORDS

    When the subject of official records arises, most often the issue concerns a member of the association, or their attorney, requesting access to or copies of the official records of the association. In providing access to the official records, the underlying questions of what records a community association is required to maintain and for how long are often overlooked. A community association, regardless of whether it is a condominium association or a homeowners’ association, it is required by statute to maintain certain documents for prescribed periods of time. In addition to the statutory requirements found in Chapters 617, 718, and 720 of the Florida Statutes, the governing documents of a community association often contain additional documents that must be maintained by the association.

CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATIONS

    Section 718.111(12)(a), Florida Statutes (2005), provides that a condominium association must maintain the following documents for the periods of time listed:

Current Copy

  • A roster of all unit owners, including their unit numbers, mailing addresses and phone numbers.
  • Voting certificates.
  • Electronic mailing addresses designated by unit owners who have consented to receive notices of association matters by electronic transmission.
  • Insurance policies.
  • Current copies of any management agreements, leases, or other contracts to which the association is a party or under which the association or the unit owners have an obligation or responsibility.
  • A copy of the Q&A sheet as described by Section 718.504, Florida Statutes.
  • Rules and Regulations.

One Year

  • Ballots, sign-in sheets, voting proxies, and all other papers relating to voting by unit owners.
  • Bids for work to be performed.
Seven Years
  • Minutes of meetings of the association, its board and its members.
  • Accounting records for the association, including separate accounting records for each condominium operated by the association where applicable.
  • Contracts for work to be performed.

Perpetuity

  • A copy of the plans, permits, warranties, and other items provided by the developer pursuant to Section 718.301(4), Florida Statutes.
  • A copy of the recorded declaration of condominium of each condominium operated by the association and any amendment thereto.
  • A copy of the bylaws of the association and any amendment thereto.
  • A certified copy of the articles of incorporation, or other documents creating the association, and any amendment thereto.
Reasonable time
  • Bills of sale or transfer for all property owned by the association.
  • All rental records, when the association is acting as agent for the rental of condominium units.
  • All other records not specified above which are maintained by the association.

HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATIONS

    Section 720.303(4)(a), Florida Statutes (2005), provides that a homeowners’ association must maintain the following documents for the periods of time listed below:

Current Copy

  • A roster of all members, including their parcel identification numbers and mailing addresses.
  • Electronic mailing addresses designated by members who have consented to receive notice of association matters by electronic transmission.
  • Current copies of management agreements, leases, or other contracts to which the association is a party or under which the association has any obligation or responsibility.
  • Rules and Regulations of the association.

One Year

  • Bids for work to be performed.

Seven Years

  • Minutes of meetings of the association’s board and its members.
  • A copy of all association insurance policies.
  • Financial and accounting records for the association, including accurate, itemized, and detailed records of all receipts and expenditures, current accounts and periodic statements for the account for each member, tax returns, financial statements, and financial reports of the association, and any other records that identify, measure, record, or communicate financial information.
Perpetuity
  • Copies of any plans, specifications, permits, and warranties related to improvements constructed on the common areas or other property that the association is obligated to maintain, repair, or replace.
  • A copy of the bylaws of the association and any amendment thereto.
  • A copy of the articles of incorporation of the association and any amendment thereto.
  • A copy of the declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions and any amendment thereto.
  • A copy of the disclosure summary described in Section 720.401(1), Florida Statutes.

Reasonable time

  • All other records not specified above which are maintained by the association.

Chapter 617

    In addition to the records listed above, Section 617.1601, Florida Statutes (2005) requires that all associations organized as not-for-profit corporations must maintain written communications sent to all members generally for a period of three years. Additionally, this section requires that not-for-profit community associations keep a list of the names and addresses of their current directors and officers and a copy of their most recent annual report as filed with the Florida Department of State.

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

    All community associations are required to keep their records within the state. Condominium associations must make their records available to their members within five business days of a written request, while homeowners associations have ten business days in which to comply with such a request. Records may be kept in any form, however, records must be converted to written form upon the request of a member.

EXEMPTIONS

    Each of the statutes provides that certain records, while constituting official records of the association, are exempt from disclosure to the association’s members. For condominium associations, these exemptions include 1) all records protected by the lawyer-client or work-product privilege, 2) all information obtained by an association in connection with the approval of the lease, sale, or other transfer of a unit and 3) any medical records of the unit owners. In addition to these items, homeowners associations are exempt from disclosing any disciplinary, health, insurance, or personnel records of the association's employees.

OTHER NON-SPECIFIED RECORDS

    In addition to the list of documents contained in each statute, each of the relevant statutes requires that the community association to which it applies maintain 'all other records of the association not specifically included in the foregoing which are related to the operation of the association.' This catch-all provision includes as official records any other documents in the possession of an association which are related to the operation of the association and makes them subject to inspection by the members. It is important to remember that when a community association maintains a document that it is not required to keep, the document is subject to inspection by the association’s members upon request. Like rental records and bills of sale, no time frame is specified for the retention of these catch-all records. Accordingly, a community association should retain these records for a reasonable period of time or for as long as the records provide a benefit to the association.

FINAL THOUGHTS

    While the above statutes specify the minimum time frames during which most of the listed records must be maintained by a community association, it is important to remember that a community association should keep a record or document beyond the required time period for as long as the retention of the record or document provides some benefit to the association. Items such as ballots and proxies, have little value to the association after the required retention period and are often a source of ammunition for dissident members of the association looking to find errors in the conduct of association matters. Other documents, such as construction contracts, minutes of meetings, copies of old rules and regulations often provide many benefits to a community association long after the time frames for which they are required to be maintained have passed.

    Each community association should examine its records retention policies and practices to determine at a minimum whether its official records are being maintained for the required statutory time frames. Beyond this initial concern, a community association should determine whether the association is maintaining any records beyond the minimum required time frames and what benefit, if any, is gained by continuing to retain these records.

The firm of Taylor & Carls, P.A., with offices located in Maitland, Melbourne, Tampa and Daytona Beach, Florida, was founded in 1981 and has practiced in the area of community association law since that date. This edition prepared by Richard M. Coln, Esq. of Taylor & Carls, P.A. The information contained in The Association e-Lawyer should not be acted upon without professional legal advice.

©2005 Taylor & Carls, P.A. All Rights Reserved.
The firm can be reached at 407-660-1040.
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