QUESTION: The board recently re-keyed the building and gave keys to all residents. Absentee owners requested keys for themselves. Is the board required to give keys to absentee owners?
ANSWER: When owners lease their units to tenants, they transfer their common area rights to their tenants. (Liebler v. Point Loma.) As a result, absentee owners do not have the right to keys to recreational facilities. If both owners and tenants have access, it increases the load on those amenities. Accordingly, associations can limit the distribution of keys to pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, etc.
Even though associations can restrict access to amenities, absentee owners still have the right to enter the development to inspect and maintain their separate interest. Absentee owners may be enetitled to lobby keys, gate keys, codes for keyless entry, and remote-control codes or devices for gated communities, but not keys to the clubhouse or pool. Associations can charge members for extra sets of keys beyond the normal allotment.
The transfer of common area rights does not mean the right to attend board and annual meetings. Absentee owners retain those rights along with the right to to vote on matters presented to the membership.
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