S.O. from Franklin County, Ohio writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Currently in the process of requesting records from my HOA. The common areas and buildings maintenance are in dire need of siding. From my understanding there should be a nominal fee to inspect records. I was provided a bill of $2,000.00 to inspect records for the past three years. I am paying office staff to gather the records, they do not allow owners to inspect, they will only provide copies. What is my legal right to inspect the records?
Mister Condo replies:
S.O., I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column. If you need to learn about your legal rights, I would have to refer you to a locally qualified attorney. As a member of the non-profit corporation that is your association, you do have a right to inspect records and the association or management company can charge a reasonable fee for preparing those records. $2000 is a lot of money but, then again, three years of records is a lot of records. I am not sure what you are looking for, are you? If your complaint is that the maintenance has been neglected or that the buildings need to be sided, why not just attend a Board meeting and ask why these items aren’t being addressed. Also, why not elect leaders who will address these issues. My guess is that there isn’t enough money in the Reserve Fund to pay for these items due to years of inadequate common fees being collected. Everyone loves low common fees but low common fees lead to the exact problem you are describing. If you are looking for wrongdoing or missing money by collecting the records, you might do better to request an audit. Either way, paying $2000 of your own money and trying to make sense of three years’ worth of association records is a daunting task. Good luck!