Subject to time limitations, members have the right to inspect and copy the association's books and records. This includes electronic records. However, not all records are subject to inspection. Further, a request for information is not the same as a request for records. Finally, members' inspection rights cannot be limited by contract or by the association's articles or bylaws. (Corp. Code §8313.)
Specific Records Should Be Requested. Members cannot make a sweeping request for every record ever produced by the association over the past ten years. The request must be specific, must be for a statutorily approved time period (current and prior two years), and for a proper purpose. For example, a proper request would be to review the financial statements for the past twelve months.
Copying and Redacting Costs. Associations may charge for the cost of copying the requested documents and redacting sensitive information. Directors who request copies can also be charged for the cost of copying.
Proper Purpose. A member's request to inspect records must be for a proper purpose reasonably related to his or her interests as a member of the association. (Civ. Code §5230), (Corp. Code §8330, Corp. Code §8333.) The records belong to the association and any misuse of records by a member may subject the person to legal action for injunctive relief and damages.
Right to Designate Agent. Members may designate another person, agent or attorney to inspect records. The member shall make the designation in writing. (Civ. Code §5205(b), Corp. Code §8311.)
Deadlines for Production. The association must produce records within time frames established by the Davis-Stirling Act. If the association refuses to produce records which members have a right to review, the requesting member can go into court for an order that records be produced.
Inspection Location. Records must be made available at the association's onsite business office or, if there is none, at a mutually agreed upon location. If the parties cannot agree on a location or if the member submits a request for copies of specifically identified records, the association may copy the documents and mail them to the member. (Civ. Code §5205(c).)
Director's Right to Inspect. With limitations imposed by courts, board members have broader rights to inspect records. See "Director's Right to Inspect."
*Non-Davis-Stirling Associations. For deed restricted associations that do not fall under the Davis-Stirling Act, inspection rights can be found in Corporations Code §1601 and §8333. Corporations Code §1610(a) only requires that the accounting books and records and minutes of proceedings of the shareholders and the board and committees of the board of any domestic corporation be open to inspection at any reasonable time during business hours. Section 1601, subdivision (a) requires only that the identified records ‘shall be open to inspection at any reasonable time during usual business hours. The statute does not specify where the records shall be made open to inspection. It's implied that they may be inspected at the office where the records are kept. (Innes v. Diablo Controls, Inc. (2016) 248 Cal.App.4th 139, 143.)
Records Inspection Menu. For more information about the inspection of records, see "Records Menu."
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