Most HOA boards have had at least one homeowner request access to and copies of association records. Many boards have also had requests from many different homeowners, or received many requests from a single homeowner where the requests seem to be invading the privacy of other owners if produced. How should these requests be handled?
The Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (“CCIOA”) requires most homeowners associations to have a policy addressing inspection and copying of records. Not only is having a policy in place required for most associations, but it is also a good practice. If an association has a policy in place before any requests are received, the association greatly decreases the potential of problems arising in the future. If requests for record access are received without a policy in place, the board may not understand what documents are appropriate or legal to provide to the homeowner. The current board also may not know what prior boards’ general standards were regarding record access, which can result in different homeowners getting different levels of access to association records. If a policy is in place, the policy can be followed and the requesting homeowner has less opportunity to claim that the board has acted inappropriately.
Types of Documents Available: Your association’s Inspection and Copying of Records Policy should state what documents are available for inspection, what documents may be withheld from inspection, and what documents must be withheld from inspection. But, how can a board know what documents fall into each category?
Section 317 of CCIOA sets forth the document retention requirements for associations. The statute describes what documents are deemed records of the association for purposes of inspection by owners. The statute also provides additional documents that may be withheld from homeowner inspection, and lists other documents that must be withheld from homeowner inspection. However, your association’s governing documents may also require additional documents be available for homeowner inspection. For additional information about document retention requirements, contact your association’s attorney or see our article.
Method of Inspection: The law does not require documents to be available at a moment’s notice and allows associations to have requirements pertaining to inspections. The association can require homeowners to submit their document inspection requests in writing. The association can also require the homeowner describe with reasonable particularity the records sought, and the association can require that homeowners provide at least 10 days notice prior to the requested inspection or production date. Additionally, the association may limit examination and copying times to normal business hours or the next regularly scheduled board meeting, as long as that meeting occurs within 30 days after the request was made.
However, associations cannot require homeowners to provide their reasons for the inspection/copy requests, although the associations policy may state that the information cannot be used for commercial purposes.
Because of the many nuances contained in the statute regarding inspection and copying of records, we strongly recommend having an attorney prepare your association’s Inspection and Copying of Records Policy. A policy drafted by an attorney familiar with this area of law would also contain additional protections for the association, including an ability to collect any costs involved in the inspection. Having a clear policy in place before an inspection request is received is invaluable!
If you have additional questions or would like assistance with your association’s Inspection and Copying of Records Policy, please contact a Altitude Community Law attorney at 303.432.9999 for more information.