Adams Stirling PLC


A member's right to inspect records is not open-ended. It is subject to statutory limitations that include a proper purpose and may include redacting information and copy costs.

Current & Two Prior Years. Except for minutes that are permanently available, associations need only produce records for the current fiscal year and two previous fiscal years. (Civ. Code § 5210(a).) Older records may be disposed of in accordance with a duly adopted records disposal policy.

Records Subject to Review. While some records are not subject to review, most can be inspected and copied by members. (Civ. Code § 5200(a).) Following is a list of records subject to membership review:

Fees for Providing Association Records.

a.  Civil Code § 5200. With respect to association records required to be provided pursuant to Civil Code § 5200, an association may charge the direct and actual cost of copying and mailing the requested items. (Civ. Code § 5205(f).) An association may also charge an amount not exceeding $10 per hour, and not exceeding $200 total per written request, for the time actually and reasonably involved in redacting an "enhanced association record." (Civ. Code § 5205(g).)

b.  Civil Code § 4530. With respect to association records required to be provided pursuant to Civil Code § 4530, an association may charge a reasonable fee based upon the association's actual cost to procure, prepare, reproduce and deliver the requested items. (Civ. Code § 4530(b).)

Electronic Records. Members who request records have the option of receiving them in electronic form if the records can be transmitted in a redacted format that does not allow the records to be altered. (Civ. Code § 5205(h).)

a.  Format of Files. Compliance with the statute can best be accomplished by burning the files to be produced to a non-rewritable CD or DVD. Although the file, regardless of format, could still be copied and the copy manipulated, the files burned to the disk could not, thus preserving the integrity of the production. Emailing a .pdf or other editable format may not be fully compliant with the statute because the actual file produced could be manipulated. Unsecured .pdf files and files in other formats can be edited by legitimate, commonly available software. Even secured .pdf files can have their security removed by unscrupulous websites. However, a court could find that a good faith attempt at compliance could be met by transmitting either a password-protected secure .pdf, or by producing an image file of the document, such as a .tif format, converted from a .pdf file.

b.  Reasonable Fee. The association may charge a reasonable fee for this service based on the association's actual cost to procure, redact, prepare, and reproduce the requested items. (Civ. Code § 4530(b).)

c.  Limitation on Costs. For items provided electronically, the cost of duplication is limited to the direct cost of producing a copy of a record in the electronic format. The cost of duplication shall be limited to the direct cost of producing a copy of a record in that electronic format. (Civ. Code § 5205(h).)

Custody and Control. During the inspection process, records remain under the custody and control of the association's managing agent. Members do not have a right to remove, alter, or destroy corporate records.

Written Request. Requests to inspect records should be in writing. The request must be sufficiently detailed so there is no confusion over what is being requested from the association. The other benefit of a written request is that it sets a clear start date for the applicable time period for the association to produce the records.

Deadlines for Production. The association must produce records within certain time frames. See Deadlines for Producing Records.

Creating Documents. The right to review documents does not give owners the right to demand that documents be created for them. Associations are not required to create a document that does not already exist.

Employee Salaries. There are differing opinions on whether members have a right to inspect employee compensation. See Employee Salaries.

Redacting Records. See Redacting Records.

Director's Right to Inspect. See Director's Right to Inspect Records.

Records Not Subject to Inspection. See Records not Subject to Inspection

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC