How Can A Homeowner Request HOA Documents

In most states, homeowners associations must comply with a member's request HOA documents. Many homeowners, though, don't know the first thing about how to make such requests. And far more homeowners are unaware they have a right to examine the association's records.

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In most states, homeowners associations must comply with a member’s request HOA documents. Many homeowners, though, don’t know the first thing about how to make such requests. And far more homeowners are unaware they have a right to examine the association’s records.


Do Homeowners Have a Right to Request HOA Documents?

Most state laws give members the right to examine and copy the records and documents of a homeowners association. This right may be found in the state’s HOA, condominium, and nonprofit corporation laws.

For instance, in California, Civil Code Section 5205 stipulates that an association must make association records available for member inspection and copying. Similar laws exist in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and more. However, it is important to note that state laws vary, so the exact requirements and procedures for making an HOA records request can differ.

In addition to state laws, checking an association’s governing documents is imperative. The CC&Rs, in particular, usually contain provisions detailing members’ rights to obtain copies of the HOA’s documents. The CC&Rs also typically list the steps and requirements for requesting HOA documents.


Which HOA Documents Can a Homeowner Review?

Some homeowners may wonder, “What documents can I request from my HOA?” However, the answer to this question depends on where the association is located. Again, state laws can differ, so what may be available for homeowner review in one state may not be available in another.

Typically, associations can choose not to disclose certain documents to homeowners. These include documents that contain confidential or personal information, such as ongoing litigation, contracts under negotiation, personnel records, and medical records.

In general, homeowners can request HOA documents that cover the following:

  • Which HOA Documents Can a Homeowner Review?Governing documents, including the CC&Rs, bylaws, articles of incorporation, community plat, and operating rules;
  • All board and membership meeting minutes and notices;
  • Membership lists;
  • All insurance policies of the association;
  • Executed contracts of the association;
  • Documents related to elections and voting, such as notices, ballots, minutes, and proxies;
  • All accounting and financial records that do not include private information, such as receipts, expenditures, financial reports, audits, reserve studies, and invoices; and,
  • All other official records.

Keep in mind that some states have laws outlining which documents homeowners can request to review. For instance, in Florida, Section 720.303(4) of the Homeowners Associations Act details the official records. These records include but are not limited to the governing documents, membership lists, insurance policies, and accounting records, including tax returns.


What HOA Documents Are Not Available for Review?

It is important to remember that not all documents should be made available to homeowners. One example is the minutes of an executive session. An executive session refers to a closed-door board meeting. This meeting is not open to homeowners due to the sensitive or confidential nature of the matters being discussed.

In some states, an HOA can make the minutes of an executive session available for review, but they must not contain any sensitive, private, or confidential information. It should read more like a general outline.

Employee records and medical records are other common examples of privileged records not available for examination. Any document that reflects a person’s social security number, medical information, and other personal details should remain private.

Some associations also don’t allow their members to review unexecuted or proposed contracts. The contracts that homeowners may review are those already executed or signed. Of course, depending on state laws and governing documents, other associations may need to make even unexecuted contracts available.

Sometimes, a homeowner will ask for financial records that date back 10 or 20 years. Such a request would be unreasonable as most HOAs are only required to keep records for up to a limited number of years.

Finally, an HOA is not required to divulge or share documents that are privileged under law. These usually include documents subject to attorney-client privilege or those related to ongoing litigation.


Can an HOA Charge a Fee for a Community Association Documents Request?

Generally, an HOA can collect a fee to cover the cost of producing copies of the requested documents. That said, some states cap the amount an association may charge.

In Arizona, for instance, an association may charge a disclosure fee of up to an aggregate of $400. Disclosure fees cover the cost of producing records that will be supplied to purchasers or potential homeowners. For records requests by a member, Arizona law bars associations from charging a fee for the service but allows a fee for making copies.


Tips for Handling an HOA Documents Request

Many HOA boards have no idea how to handle a request HOA documents when one comes in. Most of the time, state laws and the association’s governing documents provide guidance. However, some tips can help streamline the process.


1. Create an HOA Records Request Form

A request form can significantly reduce time spent reviewing and conforming with records requests. In some communities, boards ask homeowners to write a formal letter. While this does work, letter formats can vary greatly from one writer to another.

To simplify matters, consider creating a standard form that homeowners can fill out. This way, board members can review the requests with speed and ease. It also makes it more convenient for homeowners.


2. Construct a Community Website

Community websites are a great tool for homeowners associations. Not only do they support better communication, but they also allow ease of access through homeowner portals. Members can pay their dues conveniently through homeowner portals and stay up-to-date on all the latest HOA news.

Additionally, boards can upload important documents to the website, and members can access them anytime. Homeowners can obtain a copy of HOA docs with a community website without disturbing the board or manager.


3. Hire an HOA Management Company

Board members often lead busy lives outside of the association. As such, it is not always practical to have a self-managed association. This is where an HOA management company can come in handy.

An HOA management company can handle the association’s day-to-day operations, including responding to a homeowner’s request for HOA documents. Moreover, management companies usually provide user-friendly websites that can store association records.


How to Get HOA Documents

community association documents requestHomeowners can request a copy of the association’s documents through a number of ways. The first is to follow the procedure already outlined in your community. If your HOA does not have a standard procedure in place, consider writing a formal letter. Homeowners may also approach their HOA board or community manager for assistance.

If your HOA maintains a website, you may be able to access the records there. Many associations publish their governing documents, notices, meeting minutes, and other documents on their community website.

Another alternative is to search the public records of your county recorder’s office. More often than not, associations must record their governing documents with the county. However, certain documents, such as notices, minutes, and invoices, may not be available through the county recorder’s office.


Does the Seller Have an Obligation to Supply HOA Documents?

In most states, sellers must disclose the existence of an HOA to prospective buyers. Sellers must also supply buyers with certain HOA documents, which may include an HOA demand letter. One example is California, which requires a seller to disclose specific information and documents if they sell a home that is part of an HOA. State laws differ on the documents a seller must provide to a prospective buyer.


Frequently Asked Questions


How to find HOA rules?

Homeowners can usually get a copy of their HOA’s rules through their community website. If an HOA does not have a website, homeowners can turn to their HOA board or community manager. They may need to follow proper procedures to request HOA documents, such as writing a letter or completing a form. Homeowners can also talk to their neighbors to ask for a copy of the rules.


How can I get a copy of my HOA bylaws?

Homeowners can get a copy of their HOA bylaws by going through the proper channels. Typically, this means asking the HOA board or community manager for a copy, which may involve completing a form or writing a formal letter. Keep in mind that homeowners may need to pay a fee for the cost of copying and producing the documents.

If the HOA has a website, a copy of the bylaws is usually published there as well. If that does not work, homeowners can head to their county recorder’s office to request a copy.


How to get HOA statement?

Homeowners can secure their HOA statement of account through their board or manager. More often than not, though, the board treasurer provides this to homeowners on a regular basis. Additionally, if an HOA has a homeowner portal, members can log into their accounts and view their statement.

An HOA that does not have a homeowner portal should really consider investing in one. Homeowner portals provide convenience and efficiency in many aspects. There are many websites that offer this service. Alternatively, HOAs can hire an HOA management company. Most management companies have homeowner portals included in their packages.


Requesting HOA Documents Made Easy

Complying with a homeowner’s reasonable request HOA documents is critical to the success of any association. It builds trust between homeowners and board members, promotes transparency, and supports accountability. Unfortunately, not all associations have the time or resources to respond to records inspection requests.

An HOA management company can assist board members with records requests and more. Start looking for an HOA management company using our online directory!



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