What to Include in Association Records

Community associations have an obligation to maintain business records just as all corporations do.  Often our clients ask us what information and documents belong in association records.  As a starting point, we like to address what does not belong in those records; namely, attorney-client privileged information.

Correspondence (including e-mails), memos, and attorney invoices all contain attorney-client privileged information that should be kept separately from the rest of an association’s records.  Disclosure of attorney-client privileged information can result in waiver of the attorney-client privilege; in other words, once the cat is out of the bag, you can’t put it back in.

Association attorneys represent the association as a whole, but they act at the direction of the Board of Directors.  Individual owners (association members) have the right to review association records upon request.  They are not, however, entitled to review attorney-client privileged information/documents.  It is essential that the Board protect attorney-client privilege information; not lumping that information in with general association records is a good starting point.

So what does belong in the association’s general records?  A non-exhaustive list includes:

  • The association’s governing documents (declaration, bylaws, rules and regulations, board resolutions, etc.);
  • Board meeting minutes;
  • Correspondence with owners;
  • Invoices from vendors;
  • A copy of the annual audit;
  • Your reserve study;
  • Association insurance policies;
  • Any documents or information relied on to prepare the association’s taxes.

How long documents should be kept in the association’s records is a matter of common sense and sound business practices.  The cable bill probably doesn’t need to be kept for as long as the financial audit or any other records relied on to prepare the association’s taxes.  Important financial documents should be kept for at least three years.  If you have questions about your association’s records, be sure to ask an experienced association manager and/or your association’s attorney for advice on a case-by-case basis.

If you have any questions we can answer, please feel free to leave a comment or contact us directly.  We look forward to continuing this conversation with you in our future posts!

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4 Responses to What to Include in Association Records
  1. Ronald e. fouts
    June 6, 2013 | 2:10 am

    I am a director of an H.O.A. The board of directors has kept me from seeing attorney records claiming lawyer/client privilege. They claim they can set this policy. I claim I can not do my duty without all the facts.

    Can they hold these records from me?

    I would like a discussion.

    THANKS
    Ron

  2. Valerie Farris Oman
    June 18, 2013 | 4:57 pm

    If you were a party to the litigation that the records reference, the board likely can (and should) keep them confidential even from you, as a new board member. However, assuming you were not a party to the litigation, the board should not prevent you from seeing those records. As a board member, you are entitled and required to review information and advice provided to the board by outside experts if it is reasonably necessary to make a decision.

    If you haven’t already done so, you should submit a formal written request to your fellow board members to review the records in question. If that doesn’t work, you could bring an action to force them to turn over the documents. If you do consider that route, you’ll want to consult with an attorney experienced in community association law to assist you going forward. This link will take you to a list of such attorneys via the Community Association’s Institute website.

  3. […] have visited the issue of what to include within Association records in the past (see our blog post here). However, Associations might want more specific guidance when it comes to how long the various […]

  4. Jen Malekpour
    December 31, 2014 | 2:31 pm

    What records are the Board required to provide to homeowners?

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What to Include in Association Records

Community associations have an obligation to maintain business records just as all corporations do.  Often our clients ask us what information and documents belong in association records.  As a starting point, we like to address what does not belong in those records; namely, attorney-client privileged information.

Correspondence (including e-mails), memos, and attorney invoices all contain attorney-client privileged information that should be kept separately from the rest of an association’s records.  Disclosure of attorney-client privileged information can result in waiver of the attorney-client privilege; in other words, once the cat is out of the bag, you can’t put it back in.

Association attorneys represent the association as a whole, but they act at the direction of the Board of Directors.  Individual owners (association members) have the right to review association records upon request.  They are not, however, entitled to review attorney-client privileged information/documents.  It is essential that the Board protect attorney-client privilege information; not lumping that information in with general association records is a good starting point.

So what does belong in the association’s general records?  A non-exhaustive list includes:

  • The association’s governing documents (declaration, bylaws, rules and regulations, board resolutions, etc.);
  • Board meeting minutes;
  • Correspondence with owners;
  • Invoices from vendors;
  • A copy of the annual audit;
  • Your reserve study;
  • Association insurance policies;
  • Any documents or information relied on to prepare the association’s taxes.

How long documents should be kept in the association’s records is a matter of common sense and sound business practices.  The cable bill probably doesn’t need to be kept for as long as the financial audit or any other records relied on to prepare the association’s taxes.  Important financial documents should be kept for at least three years.  If you have questions about your association’s records, be sure to ask an experienced association manager and/or your association’s attorney for advice on a case-by-case basis.

If you have any questions we can answer, please feel free to leave a comment or contact us directly.  We look forward to continuing this conversation with you in our future posts!

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
4 Responses to What to Include in Association Records
  1. Ronald e. fouts
    June 6, 2013 | 2:10 am

    I am a director of an H.O.A. The board of directors has kept me from seeing attorney records claiming lawyer/client privilege. They claim they can set this policy. I claim I can not do my duty without all the facts.

    Can they hold these records from me?

    I would like a discussion.

    THANKS
    Ron

  2. Valerie Farris Oman
    June 18, 2013 | 4:57 pm

    If you were a party to the litigation that the records reference, the board likely can (and should) keep them confidential even from you, as a new board member. However, assuming you were not a party to the litigation, the board should not prevent you from seeing those records. As a board member, you are entitled and required to review information and advice provided to the board by outside experts if it is reasonably necessary to make a decision.

    If you haven’t already done so, you should submit a formal written request to your fellow board members to review the records in question. If that doesn’t work, you could bring an action to force them to turn over the documents. If you do consider that route, you’ll want to consult with an attorney experienced in community association law to assist you going forward. This link will take you to a list of such attorneys via the Community Association’s Institute website.

  3. […] have visited the issue of what to include within Association records in the past (see our blog post here). However, Associations might want more specific guidance when it comes to how long the various […]

  4. Jen Malekpour
    December 31, 2014 | 2:31 pm

    What records are the Board required to provide to homeowners?

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Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

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