If you live in a condominium, you are automatically a member of the non-profit corporation which administers the affairs of your condominium. Said corporation is commonly referred to as a condominium association.
Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes, which governs the operation of condominiums and their respective associations, defines what constitutes official records of the condominium association. The official records of the condominium association must be maintained within the State of Florida, and in most cases, must be maintained by the condominium association for at least seven years.
The official records of a condominium association include the following:
- A copy of the plans, permits, warranties, and other items provided by the developer of the condominium;
- A photocopy of the recorded Declaration of Condominium and all amendments thereto;
- A photocopy of the recorded Bylaws of the condominium association and all amendments thereto;
- A certified copy of the Articles of Incorporation of the condominium association and all amendments thereto;
- The current Rules and Regulations of the condominium association;
- The corporate minute book for the condominium association;
- A current roster of all unit owners and their mailing addresses and, if known, their telephone numbers;
- All insurance policies maintained by the condominium association;
- All contracts to which the condominium association is a party;
- The title documents for all property owned by the condominium association;
- The accounting records for the condominium association (Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes is quite detailed with respect to the type of accounting records which must be maintained by the condominium association);
- Ballots, sign-in sheets, voting proxies, and all other papers relating to voting by unit owners;
- A copy of the current question and answer sheet which the condominium association is required to maintain; and,
- All other records of the condominium association which are related to the operation of the condominium and the condominium association.
As you can see, the official records of the association contain a significant amount of information about the condominium and its operation.
What Rights Do Unit Owners Have To View Official Records of His Condominium Association?
Now we shall discuss how the association is to maintain these official records, a unit owner's right to inspect the official records, and which official records are not subject to inspection by unit owners.
The official records of a condominium association must be maintained within the State of Florida for at least seven (7) years. The official records of a condominium association must be made available to a unit owner within forty-five (45) miles of the condominium property or within the county in which the condominium is located. The official records must be made available within five (5) working days after the association's receipt of a written request from a unit owner. The condominium association can have a copy of the official records available for inspection or copying on the condominium property or the condominium association may offer the option of making the official records available to a unit owner electronically via the internet or by allowing the official records to be viewed in an electronic format on a computer screen and printed upon request.
The official records of the condominium association are to be open for inspection by a unit owner (or his authorized representative) at all reasonable times. The right to inspect the official records includes the right to make or obtain copies at the reasonable expense of the unit owner. However, the condominium association may adopt rules and regulations regarding the frequency, time, location, notice and manner of official records inspections and copying. If a condominium association fails to provide access to the official records within ten (10) business days after its receipt of a unit owner's written request, then the association is presumed to have willfully failed to comply with Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes. A unit owner who is denied access to the official records is entitled to his actual damages or minimum damages for the condominium association's willful failure to comply. Minimum damages are $50.00 per calendar day for up to ten (10) days, beginning on the eleventh (11th) business day after receipt of the unit owner's written request. The party prevailing in any lawsuit to enforce the inspection and/or copying of the official records is entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees.
The condominium association is required to maintain an adequate number of copies of the declaration of condominium, the articles of incorporation, the bylaws, the rules and regulations, (including any amendments to any of said documents), the questions and answer sheet, and the year-end financial information of the condominium association to insure their availability to unit owners. However, the condominium association may charge its actual costs for preparing and furnishing these documents to persons requesting same.
The following documents are not available to inspection and/or copying by a unit owner:
- Any record protected by the lawyer/client privilege;
- Any information obtained by the condominium association in connection with the approval of any lease, sale, or other transfer of a unit within a condominium;
- Personnel records of the condominium association or the employees of the condominium association's management company - personnel records do not, however, include written employment agreements with a condominium association employee or management company or budgetary or financial records that indicate the compensation paid to an employee of the condominium association;
- The medical records of the unit owners;
- The social security numbers, driver's license numbers, credit card numbers, email addresses, telephone numbers, facsimile numbers, emergency contact information, or addresses of a unit owner other than as is necessary to fulfill the condominium association's notice requirements;
- The electronic security measures used by the condominium association to safeguard data, including, but not limited to, passwords; and,
- The software and operating system used by the condominium association which allow the manipulation of data, even if the unit owner owns a copy of the same software used by the condominium association.
As you can see, almost all documents pertaining to the operation of a condominium are official records of the condominium association and are, in most cases, available for inspection and/or copying by a unit owner. The governing of a condominium is, for the most part, "in the sunshine".