The Association’s Records

Maintaining the association’s records is very important. According to Robert Prince, the law requires all associations to maintain and make various records available to members. If the association does not maintain the required records, it could lead to liability. Thus, it is vital to know which documents have to be maintained and how the association has to make it available to the members.

Section 19 of the Condominium Property Act lists what records condominiums need to keep. Section 18.5(d) of the Condominium Property Act and Section 1-30(i) contain the requirements for almost all non-condominiums. All associations must keep the governing documents, including the CCRs, articles of incorporation, rules and regulations (no time limit), detailed and accurate records of receipts and expenditures (10 years for condos no time limit given for non-condos), contracts (those in force for condos or that association has rights or obligations; no time limit given for non-condos). minutes (kept for seven years), ballots and proxies (kept for one year) and a list of names and addresses of its members (current list). Additionally, a recent change to the law requires condominiums to keep and make available the email addresses and phone numbers of the members.

Some municipalities also have association related ordinances that ad- dress record keeping, such as Chicago. Associations should inquire with their local municipalities to see if there are additional or different requirements.

Prince stated that if the owner is permitted to review the records under the applicable law, there is little the association can do to stop disclosure. For condominiums, Section 19(g) protects certain documents from disclosure such as other owner’s ledgers, documents related to litigation, employee documents and lease documents. In all instances, the request must be made in writing and state, with particularity, what records are being sought to be reviewed.

For most records, there is no requirement that an owner state a purpose for reviewing re- cords. In non-condos, owners are only permitted to review owner lists and ballots and proxies if the owner states a proper purpose. In a condo, owners can review the owner list, including phone numbers and email addresses, as well as ballots and proxies if the owner submits a purpose related to the association. A condo association can also require the condo owner to sign an affidavit that states that the owner agrees that the information will not be used for commercial purposes.

Condominium associations are able to charge the costs of retrieving, making available and copying the records requested. Non-condos can charge the costs of retrieving and copying the records. The key is that the costs must be reasonable under the law.

The Condominium Property Act exempts condominiums from having to turn over certain information such as leases, account ledgers and violation notices related to other owners. In contrast, condominiums do have to give requesting owners an owner list that includes, name, address, email address and phone numbers. Non-condominiums only have to give a list of owners with their names and addresses.

Must associations make these records available for review for the en- tire period in which they maintain them, or can they put a time limit on their availability? Prince said that the association has to allow owners to review requested records for the entire time they are required to maintain that specific record under the law. If it is not required to maintain a record, the association does not have to let an owner review that record. Though, it can choose to do so.

There are no restrictions on an association being able to put records online. However, associations have to be wary that it has a duty to protect certain identification information of the owners under federal law.

If a board member is the only one who has a record, the board member has a duty to safeguard the record. Also, if someone requests the record, the board member will need to make the record available to the members.

Yes. They must be kept for a minimum of seven years.

There is no legal standard format. However, practically speaking, minutes are supposed to give basic information about the meeting and decisions made at the meeting. Many associations put too much detail in the minutes. We recommend that the board exclude a regurgitation of the discussion that occurred. Instead, the minutes should list all of the decisions made by the board, whether it decided to act or not act.

Unless the bylaws require the committees to keep minutes, there is no statutory obligation that they do so.