QUESTION: My husband and I made a standing request for board minutes but management said we have to submit a new request EVERY month! This seems ridiculous.
ANSWER: I suspect a judge would agree with you. The Open Meeting Act states that minutes must be distributed to any member upon request. (Civ. Code §4950.) The statute does not state how often the request must be made, which means it is open to interpretation. A judge could deem the requirement for monthly requests to be an unreasonable barrier to a member's right to minutes. If so, the court could impose a $500 fine and order the association to produce the minutes. (Civ. Code §5235.)
Expenses. If the board is concerned about the expense of copying and mailing minutes, they can bill you for the cost. (Civ. Code §4950.) To avoid those costs, the minutes could be emailed each month once you give authorization for electronic delivery. (Civ. Code §5205(h).)
Transparency. To eliminate the problem altogether, your board can and should routinely post minutes (except for executive session minutes) on your association's website in a password protected area of the site. If your association does not have a website, the board should (i) summarize its meetings in a newsletter, (ii) post minutes on common area bulletin boards and/or (iii) distribute the information each month in the billing statement. Requiring members to submit a monthly request makes it look like the board is hiding something. That only creates distrust. Instead, the board should create openness and transparency by keeping members timely informed about the board's activities.
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