Every Florida Condominium Association is required by Florida law to maintain and keep certain documents as part of its official records. The Condo Association has no option; it would be a violation of the Florida Condominium Act for specific documents not to be kept and preserved and ready for inspection by the unit owners.
What Records Need to be Kept By the Condo Association?
Pursuant to Florida Statute 718.111(12)(a), the following documents are considered to be the “official records” of each Florida condominium, and its association has the legal responsibility to act as custodian of these documents:
1. A copy of the plans, permits, warranties, and other items provided by the developer pursuant to s. 718.301(4).2. A photocopy of the recorded declaration of condominium of each condominium operated by the association and each amendment to each declaration.3. A photocopy of the recorded bylaws of the association and each amendment to the bylaws.4. A certified copy of the articles of incorporation of the association, or other documents creating the association, and each amendment thereto.5. A copy of the current rules of the association.6. A book or books that contain the minutes of all meetings of the association, the board of administration, and the unit owners.7. A current roster of all unit owners and their mailing addresses, unit identifications, voting certifications, and, if known, telephone numbers. The association shall also maintain the e-mail addresses and facsimile numbers of unit owners consenting to receive notice by electronic transmission. The e-mail addresses and facsimile numbers are not accessible to unit owners if consent to receive notice by electronic transmission is not provided in accordance with sub-subparagraph (c)3.e. However, the association is not liable for an inadvertent disclosure of the e-mail address or facsimile number for receiving electronic transmission of notices.8. All current insurance policies of the association and condominiums operated by the association.9. A current copy of any management agreement, lease, or other contract to which the association is a party or under which the association or the unit owners have an obligation or responsibility.10. Bills of sale or transfer for all property owned by the association.
11. Accounting records for the association and separate accounting records for each condominium that the association operates. Any person who knowingly or intentionally defaces or destroys such records, or who knowingly or intentionally fails to create or maintain such records, with the intent of causing harm to the association or one or more of its members, is personally subject to a civil penalty pursuant to s. 718.501(1)(d). The accounting records must include, but are not limited to:a. Accurate, itemized, and detailed records of all receipts and expenditures.b. A current account and a monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly statement of the account for each unit designating the name of the unit owner, the due date and amount of each assessment, the amount paid on the account, and the balance due.c. All audits, reviews, accounting statements, and financial reports of the association or condominium.d. All contracts for work to be performed. Bids for work to be performed are also considered official records and must be maintained by the association.12. Ballots, sign-in sheets, voting proxies, and all other papers and electronic records relating to voting by unit owners, which must be maintained for 1 year from the date of the election, vote, or meeting to which the document relates, notwithstanding paragraph (b).13. All rental records if the association is acting as agent for the rental of condominium units.14. A copy of the current question and answer sheet as described in s. 718.504.15. All other written records of the association not specifically included in the foregoing which are related to the operation of the association.16. A copy of the inspection report as described in s. 718.301(4)(p).17. Bids for materials, equipment, or services.
Courts are Strict About Keeping These Official Records
It’s important for the Condominium Association not only to keep the official documents as defined by law, but to keep these records in their proper format. The Condo Association is held to a high legal standard here, and these “official records” need to be properly respected by the association.
For example, in the case of Hobbs v. Weinkauf, the Condominium Association was held to have violated the Florida Condominium Act not because they failed to keep records, but because they keep summary accounting records for each of the condo units instead of a complete and full accounting record for each individual unit.
Inspecting The Official Documents of the Condo Association
Pursuant to Florida Statute 718.111 (12)(b),(c), the Condominium’s Records have to be open and available for review by condo unit owners; however, that right to look at the Condo Documents is limited to a reasonable time and place as defined in the law.
1. The members of the Condominium Association (i.e., all association members or the authorized representative of such member – also, a renter of a unit has a right to inspect and copy the association’s bylaws and rules) can look at the documents and make copies of them at their own expense; and
2. The Condo Association is free to adopt reasonable rules on things like frequency, time, location, notice, and manner of record inspections and copying.
Failure to Allow Inspection of the Condo Association Official Records
If the Condominium Association fails to provide access to the condominium records, then damages can be assessed against the Association under Florida Statute 718.111(12). The law sets minimum damages here as $50 per calendar day for up to 10 days, beginning on the 11th working day after receipt of the written request. Attorneys’ fees are also available under the statute for those who are forced to expend legal fees after being “… directly or indirectly, knowingly denied access to the records.”
Failure under the statute to provide the Official Records is established (though it can be rebutted in specific cases by the Condo Association) if it can be shown that, after a written request was presented to the association, 10 working days (you cannot count weekends or legal holidays) has passed without access to the records being provided.
What Questions Should You Ask Your Board About Your Condo Inspection?
Condo owners have a right to receive a copy of their building’s inspection reports. Ask your association for a copy of the inspection report referenced in Florida Statute 718.301(4)(p).
This document should come sealed by the firm providing the report.
Also, ask to speak to the inspector directly and get answers to these specific questions:
- What are the company’s qualifications?
- Were the inspections conducted by an architect, engineer, or a general contractor?
- Did the inspector sign off on an inspection report?
- Is the company insured?
- What limitations are included in their inspection report?
- Are there limits of liability?
- Did they conduct a thorough on-site inspection of the property?
- Did they exclude any section or aspect of the property in their inspection?
- When was the most recent inspection conducted?
After talking with the inspector, ask the board why the inspector was selected for the work, how the association plans to carry out future inspections, and whether they are fully funded against future repair assessment costs.
Need Help Getting Access to Your Condo Association Records?
If you are unable to get access to your Florida Condominium’s official records or your Condominium Association has violated its legal duties regarding care and control of the condo documents, it may be necessary to enlist the help of a Florida condo lawyer to force the association to play by the rules. Most real estate lawyers who practice this area of law will be happy to help.
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