By Douglas S. MacGregor, J.D., M.S.W. and Rachel Brand
We often hear from homeowners saying their board won’t provide financials, governing documents or meeting minutes. Some boards won’t let homeowners come to meetings.
In general, this is not only wrong – it’s illegal.
Under Colorado law, associations must maintain records, including meeting minutes, financial records and the governing documents. What’s more, associations must make them reasonably available for examination and copying by the individual owners.
Reasonably available means the records will be:
• Accessible during normal business hours, and
• On notice of five business days, or
• At the next regularly scheduled meeting if it occurs within 30 days after the request.
The law does, however, say that your request must be made in “good faith” for a “proper purpose.” Your request has to describe the records sought and purpose of the request with “reasonable particularity.”
Don’t let these legal words trip you up. In general, you need to have a legitimate interest in the information and must not be seeking it to harass and annoy the association.
What to do if your board denies access
Boards may deny access to information because members are unaware of the law and believe the records are somehow “private” or “confidential.”
On the other hand, sometimes a board has something to hide — such as misappropriation of funds — or is in a dispute with the owners and wants to keep them in the dark.
If you are seeking access to records, send the board a polite letter stating your request, its purpose, and how the documents you want are relevant to that purpose. Make sure to attach a copy of the statute (C.R.S. § 38-33.3-317).
If your community has professional management, send the request to the manager with a copy to the board. Keep in mind that the association can charge fees (which can be no greater than its actual cost) and it can require that the fee be paid in advance.
For more information, see Colorado Revised Statutes, the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act. § 38-33.3-317 and Colorado Community Association Law: Condominiums, Cooperatives, and Homeowners Associations, by Douglas S. MacGregor, J.D., M.S.W.