The Florida condominium statutes are very specific about what records an association must keep and for how long. For a self-managed condominium, one Board member (typically the Secretary) should be responsible for ensuring that the association’s records comply with 718.111(12) at all times. I will provide a brief review of the requirements of this statute here as well as some helpful tips to maintaining your association’s records.
What are the key items you are required to keep?
- All plans, permits, warranties and other items the developer provided to the association upon turnover.
- The Declaration of Condominium and any approved amendments.
- The Bylaws and any approved amendments.
- The Articles of Incorporation and any approved amendments.
- The current Rules & Regulations (old versions do not need to be maintained)
- Meeting minutes of all association meetings for the last seven years.
- Any audio or video recordings of association meetings (at least until the minutes from the meeting has been approved)
- A current roster of all homeowners’ unit numbers, mailing addresses and telephone numbers.
- A current roster of all homeowners’ email addresses and fax numbers if the owner has consented to receive notice by electronic transmission. This information is not available to other homeowners unless the homeowner has consented to receive notices by electronic transmission.
- Current insurance policies (old policies do not need to be maintained)
- Every contract to which the association is or was a party (including management, janitorial and landscaping contracts, to name a few) over the last seven years.
- All accounting records of the association for the last seven years. Details surrounding accounting record retention will be discussed in a separate post.
- Ballots, sign-in sheets, voting proxies and any other documents related to a homeowner vote for one year from the date of the vote.
- A copy of the current question and answer sheet referenced in FL Statute 718.504. As sample of this sheet is available from the Florida Department of Business Regulation (Form CO 6000-4).
- All other pertinent records of the association.
The association’s official records must be available for homeowner viewing. Homeowners have the right to view and photocopy all of the association’s official records with the exception of (1) documents protected by lawyer-client privilege; (2) information associated with the sale of a unit; (3) homeowner medical records and other confidential information such as Social Security Numbers; (4) association security information; and (5) personnel records (if the association has employees). If the homeowner requests a hard copy of a specific record, the Association may charge the homeowner its actual costs to prepare those records for the homeowner. It is very important that the association comply with requests from homeowners to view association records as failure to do so can lead to monetary damages.
I strongly recommend that self-managed associations follow these guidelines to ensure that the association’s records are protected and also easily accessible for viewing by homeowners. Official record transparency is a great way to keep homeowners confident in the Board’s ability to successfully manage the association.
- Keep hard copies of the Declaration of Condominium, Bylaws, Rules & Regulations, meeting minutes, and budget with maintenance fee schedule available for homeowners and prospective buyers at all times. Establish a reasonable fee schedule for these items ahead of time based on production costs and ensure these fees are enforced consistently.
- If the association has a website, keep all of the association’s records on the website for homeowners to access at their convenience. Not only does this provide complete transparency but it also provides a web-based backup of the official records so there is no concern about them being destroyed due to theft or natural disaster.
- Keep binders with hard copies of all of the association’s records on property. A simple way to do this is to have binders for each key item (e.g. meeting minutes, contracts, historical budgets, etc.).
- Keep a binder with all Board member meeting packets (the information provided to each Board member prior to a meeting). All of this information is considered official records of the association, and it is a great way to look back at exactly what the Board discussed in past meetings.
- Keep electronic copies of all association records on one designated association computer and backup all of these records routinely onto an external hard drive maintained by one of the Board members.
Two other items that I think are worth keeping in both hard and soft copy include:
- Any opinions provided by the association’s attorney. Often these are kept in the email of the Board member that asked the question and, therefore, when new Board members join, they waist association resources by asking the same questions again.
- Any email communications where a quorum of Board members discuss or take a vote on an association issue. Email communication between a quorum of Board members should be limited as much as possible as these email chains technically constitute a Board meeting which must be open to homeowners. However, in certain circumstances this cannot be avoided so my advice would be to use email to communicate to a quorum of the Board as little as possible and to keep copies of those communications for homeowner review.
I hope this overview of the official records statute has been helpful. As always, feel free to comment or reach out to me via email if you would like to discuss this topic or any other.
Emily Shaw is a condominium homeowner in Tampa, Florida and a Director of VERA Property Management, a firm providing full-service community association management in the Tampa Bay Area as well as consulting, financial and legal services to all Florida community associations.