by: Daniel Vasquez
Florida law clearly provides condominium unit owners the right to review associations records, and condo boards that withhold such records could face a fine of up to $500.
And yet I often hear from readers who complain about not being able to access such records. Sometimes the complaints are unfounded because the owner making the complaint never officially requested to see the records, or made a records request to vague to comply with, such as "I want to see all bank records."
On the other hand, well-run boards are open to records requests and do what they can to accommodate owners in order to breed trust and faith in community operations. I know it sounds corny, but it's true.
In general, boards should make association records available within five working days after receipt of a written request from an owner, an attorney representing that owner. Official association records include accounting documents, insurance policies, bank statements and work contracts, and by law, should be maintained and available for review to owners for seven years.
Any condo owner who believes they are being illegally kept from reviewing records can file a complaint with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).
What the law says:
The failure of an association to provide the records within 10 working days after receipt of a written request shall create a rebuttable presumption that the association willfully failed to comply with this paragraph. A unit owner who is denied access to official records is entitled to the actual damages or minimum damages for the association's willful failure to comply with this paragraph. The minimum damages shall be $50 per calendar day up to 10 days, the calculation to begin on the 11th working day after receipt of the written request. The failure to permit inspection of the association records as provided herein entitles any person prevailing in an enforcement action to recover reasonable attorney's fees from the person in control of the records who, directly or indirectly, knowingly denied access to the records for inspection.