FLORIDA – Latest ruling makes inspecting HOA, condo records more cumbersome
One of the cornerstone rights of unit owners in condominiums, homeowners’ associations and cooperatives is the right to inspect the association’s records.
Some owners mistakenly believe that this right is related to the state’s “government in the sunshine” laws, but those laws only apply to government entities. Instead, the state statutes governing community associations (the Condo Act, HOA Act and Cooperative Act) provide that any owner has a right to inspect the vast majority of the association’s records, save for a few specific categories of documents (such as those protected by the lawyer-client privilege, or personnel files).
Under these state laws, an owner may make a written request to inspect official records (most must be kept for seven years), and the association must make those records available for inspection and copying within five working days in a condominium, and within 10 working days in an HOA.
If the request is sent by certified mail, and the association does not allow inspection, there is a rebuttable presumption that the failure to allow inspection was willful, and the owner may be entitled to damages (either actual damages, or statutory damages of $50 per day, up to $500).
In my experience, most attorneys have assumed that, once the written request is made, it is then the association’s responsibility to contact the owner and schedule times when the documents may be inspected. As it turns out, that may not be the case. Read more: