Ohio requires that association records be available for inspection, and so associations must retain their records. These include their governing documents, insurance documents, legal documents, tax records, financial and accounting records, meeting minutes, employee benefit records, contracts, and warranties.
What records are associations required to keep? What are they encouraged to keep (though not required?)
See the attached listing of records that our office recommends associations retain and also note our recommendation as to the length of time these records should be kept.
Many associations keep their records in chronologically ordered binders known as “corporate record books.” The type of document determines how long it should be kept. See number 2 above.
More and more associations scan their records and keep them in electronic format. For associations with many years of written records, scanning can save the significant cost of storage of paper documents.
Board meeting minutes must reflect who was in attendance, the date, the time the meeting began, the time the meeting ended, and a description of every decision made. Community associations should keep meeting minutes, not hours. By that, I mean that meeting minutes absolutely do not need to reflect what was said at the meeting. Meeting minutes should only reflect what was decided at the meeting and this decision is best reflected with the minutes indicating the motion made, the name of the person making the motion, the name of the person seconding the motion, and the vote outcome.
There is no statute governing record keeping by committees. However, many bylaws and some boards require committees to keep minutes of their meetings in the same fashion as the board is required.
While there is no Ohio law preventing records being stored in a board member’s home, it is wise to store them in a place that is safe, fireproof, and accessible to all board members. Often, association records are now stored in a secured, online portal. Most associations have the benefit of being managed by a professional manager or management company. These managers or management companies more often than not provide for the safekeeping of association records. Storage of association records in a board member’s home is never recommended.
There are currently no Ohio laws addressing this topic. It is not unusual for associations to have websites where its declaration, bylaws, rules, and contact information is available to the general public. These websites usually contain a password protected portal for owners and provide access to copies of meeting minutes, financial records, and often times certain contracts such as snow plowing and landscaping.
The only guideline set forth for both homeowner and condominium associations in the Ohio Revised Code involves letting documents be reviewed for a “reasonable” amount of time.
All owners have access to most association records.
In Ohio, executive sessions may remain private. These records include:
- Information that pertains to property-related personnel matters;
- Communications with legal counsel or attorney work product pertaining to potential, threatened, or pending litigation, or other property-related matters;
- Information that pertains to contracts or transactions currently under negotiation or information that is contained in a contract or other agreement containing confidentiality requirements and that is subject to those requirements;
- Information that relates to the enforcement of the Declaration, Bylaws, or rules of the owners association against other owners;
- Information, the disclosure of which is prohibited by state or federal law.
- Records that date back more than 5 years prior to the date of the request.
What process can associations require residents to take in order to review records? Can associations limit how records are reviewed? Can associations charge owners to see records?
Any owner may examine and copy the books, records, and minutes of the owners association pursuant to reasonable standards set forth in the declaration, bylaws, or rules the board promulgates. The standards may include, but are not limited to, standards governing the type of documents that are subject to examination and copying, the times and locations those documents may be examined or copies, and the specification of a reasonable charge for copying the documents.