Deciphering Association Records Requests
This past weekend I spoke at the Community Association Institute's ("CAI") South Sound Law Day on the topic of association records. Based on the number of questions from the audience on owner requests to obtain or review records, I thought I'd summarize some highlights here.
As an attorney, not surprising, I start with the applicable state statute. For Oregon and Washington, the relevant statutes are as follow:
- Oregon HOA (Planned Community Act): ORS 94.670;
- Oregon Condo (Oregon Condominium Act): ORS 100.480;
- Washington HOA (Washington Homeowners Association Act): RCW 64.38.045;
- Washington Condo (post Jul 1990) (Washington Condominium Act): RCW 64.34.372;
- Washington Condo (pre Jul 1990) (Horizontal Property Regimes Act): RCW 64.32.170.
Additionally, the Washington Non-Profit Corporations Act includes a provision on inspection and copying corporate records at RCW 24.03.135, as does the Oregon Non-Profit Corporations Act at ORS 65.774.
Lastly, board members and owners should also consult their association's specific governing documents (Bylaws and Declaration) to see if the declarant included additional information or requirements on keeping and making available association records.
There is a gap in what the law states and practical issues that may arise when an owner or owners request records. Most often, association records include sensitive and personal information on individual homeowners, and likely include privileged documents.
An association should consider adopting a "Records Retention, Review and Copying Policy" that supplements what the law requires. This policy should include a form for all owners who request to review or copy association records to sign acknowledging that they understand that the association's records contain information of a personal, personal identifying or sensitive nature regarding association members, and that the association strongly urges the owner to take care in controlling any copies of records. Additional disclaimers and safeguards can be included within the policy and form.
The law on community association records retention, review and copying is sparse. If you manage or live within an association that could benefit from creating and adopting a formal policy and owner acknowledgement form, do not hesitate to contact one of the team at Barker Martin.