HOA Member Request for Documents

During my many years of managing residential properties including a period as assistant manager of the HOA Division of a large real estate firm in Los Angeles, I found that there were often request for the review of specific records including association financials. Some of the request were made in light of pending litigation against an association and in one case an entire board of director replacement due to the mismanagement of HOA funds.

The California Civil Code (Section 5200-5240) provides specifics on document inspection request and any limitations therein. A member may request inspection or copies of contracts, governing documents, tax returns, minutes of meeting (including agendas) and membership list.

The member does not have the right to banks statements, litigation documents or voting proxies, and an only inspect documents if the purpose reasonably relates to the member’s interest in as a member.

The statue requires associations to provide the records 10 days after receipt of the request is received if they are during the current year; however, a membership list must be provided within 5 days. Certain past records including documents prepared 24 months prior to the request including minutes of general membership meeting allow the association 30 days to comply.

The association has the right, and in some cases, the legal obligation to redact certain confidential information that could result in a compromising of an association member’s privacy or expose them to identity theft/ fraud. A fee may be charged to the requesting member for redaction and if there are any cost incurred by the association such as copies.

The right to membership list is a topic that has come up recently including the email addresses of other member, which the appellant court ruled in favor of a member retaining that right; however, the member does not have the right to solicit money, use for a commercial purpose, offer the list for sale, or use for any purpose that would not benefit the association(Corporations Code 8338(a).

Corporations Code 8330(b) (2) states that a minimum of 5% of the members may request the list and must be granted unless the entity has reason to believe that the purpose for the request is legitimate. If an association does not believe the request for the list is not for a ‘legal’ purpose spelled out in the statue, and the member files suit, the association is required to file an action in court request that the bench set aside the demand.

If the association fails to file the action, then the courts are in violation of the law to withhold the list even if it was not for a purpose specified by law. An association may deny the request without filing ‘set aside motion, if the minimum number or percentage of members demanding the suit is not met. (Tract NO 72260 Assn. v. Park (2017 10 Cal.App.5th 24).

Blog by M.A. Williams

Source: Tom Fier Esq.(ECHO Legal Resource Panel), Margaet G. Wangler Esq (CACM Law Journal)