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