Adams Stirling PLC


Right to Review. Corporations are required to keep a record of its members, with their names and addresses. (Corp. Code § 8320(a).) Members have the right to inspect and copy the association's membership list (Civ. Code § 5200 and § 5205). A membership list is defined to include a member's name, property address, mailing address and email address, but not including information for members who have opted out pursuant to Civil Code § 5220. (Civ. Code §5200(a)(9).)

Copy Costs. Associations can bill the requesting member for the direct and actual cost of copying the membership list. Associations must first inform the member of the costs before copying the requested documents. (Civ. Code § 5205(f).)

Deadline for Producing. The right to inspect is at reasonable times, upon five business days' written demand. (Civ. Code § 5210(b).)

Purpose for Request. The member requesting the list shall state the purpose for the request, which purpose shall be reasonably related to the requester's interest as a member. If the board reasonably believes that the information in the list will be used for another purpose, it may deny the member access to the list. If the request is denied, in any subsequent action brought by the member the association will have the burden to prove that the member would have used the information for purposes unrelated to his interest as a member. (Civ. Code §5225.)

A corporation has the burden of proving that the member will allow use of the information for purposes unrelated to the person’s interest as a member. ...Mere speculation that the member will use the information for an improper purpose is not sufficient to nullify inspection rights; any suspicion must be based on adequate facts in order to justify denial of inspection. (Tract No. 7260 Association, Inc. v. Parker, internal cites deleted.)

Mailing Labels. Members do not have the right to demand that the association print the membership list as mailing labels nor do they have the right to demand that delinquent owners be identified on the list. Some associations keep their list in a form that can be used to print mailing labels and the association can but is not required to present the list in that form to an owner.

Corporate Asset. A membership list is a corporate asset. (Corp. Code § 8338(a).) Without the consent of the board a membership list may not be:

(1) Used to solicit money or property unless such money or property will be used solely to solicit the vote of the members in an election to be held by their corporation.

(2) Used for any purpose which the user does not reasonably and in good faith believe will benefit the corporation.

(3) Used for any commercial purpose or purpose in competition with the corporation.

(4) Sold to or purchased by any person.

Penalty for Misuse. Any person who misuses a membership list is liable for any damage caused by the misuse, including punitive damages for a fraudulent or malicious misuse. (Corp. Code § 8338(b).)

Denial of Request. If a demand is made by a single member and the association believes the demand is for an improper purpose, the board may deny the member access to the list. (Corp. Code § 8330(b)(1).) If the demand is made by an authorized number of members, and the board believes the demand is for an improper purpose, it can petition the court for an order setting aside the demand. (Corp. Code § 8331(a).)

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