When it comes to ensuring that important association documents are private and secure, board members and managers have to follow specific protocols. However, due to ignorance or carelessness, those rules aren’t always followed.
“Probably the most common mistakes that a board makes when it comes to record-keeping is not realizing what records are required to be kept pursuant to statute,” says Attorney Steven Rappaport, an associate in the Community Associations Practice Group of the Boca Raton-based law firm of Sachs Sax Caplan, P.L. “If there is a question or concern, it is very important for an association to consult with its legal counsel to determine whether a particular written record is considered an official record, or whether it may be considered a protected or privileged record that is not to be disclosed to a requesting owner.”
Figuring out what documents fall under that classification—and what to do with them—can be a cumbersome process. Lisa Magill, who is a shareholder attorney with the Fort Lauderdale community association law firm of Becker & Poliakoff, explains that those responsible should first look to Florida Statutes Chapters 718, 719 and 720.
“Specifically, they should identify the official records the association must maintain, but there are other laws that may apply under various circumstances,” says Magill. “For example, if the community qualifies as Housing for Older Persons—55 and older—both federal and state law require the association to have policies and procedures that demonstrate the intent to comply with the Housing for Older Persons exception to discrimination laws, along with surveys and affidavits establishing the ages of the occupants of the property.”
There are other requirements under the Condominium or Homeowners’ Association Act that are often overlooked, explains Magill. These can include statutes governing elevators requiring the association to maintain the Certificate of operation, various service contracts and “No Smoking” signs.