Homeowners associations (HOAs) keep a lot of records, including governing documents (bylaws and Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions), financial reports, and more.
Many of these records are public; however, different states have different laws about which records the HOA is required to make public and how the public can obtain them. The following HOA record overview will help you understand this issue.
In general, the records that are the most valuable to the public are the HOA’s governing documents. These documents describe how the association is structured and outlines the extent of its governing powers. HOA governing documents include:
Each of the records mentioned above is part of a contractual agreement entered between the HOA and all homeowners. Because one must agree to abide by these terms if they wish to buy property in the association, managers must give copies of these HOA records to all potential buyers and new homeowners.
However, other HOA records are not offered readily to the general public. Minutes from board meetings, financial records, insurance claim history, construction records, judgments, liens, street maps, and other documents are challenging to obtain.
These HOA records can only be made available to members of the association. The procedure for obtaining these documents can vary by state but generally requires a special written request.
Then, some records include a membership roster with names, addresses, and phone numbers. They also have data about membership status; for example, the HOA keeps a list of delinquent members who violate HOA rules or owe outstanding fees.
These types of personal records are not available to the public or individual members except in rare circumstances. One such case could include a written request by an attorney involved in a lawsuit with the HOA.
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There are several reasons why it’s crucial to be able to access HOA records. First and foremost, making records available to the public — whether freely or by written request — guarantees a certain level of transparency, which can help eliminate potential fraud or illegal activity.
As mentioned previously, HOA records also matter to members of the public who are considering a home within the association. Potential buyers will need to understand the community’s rules and regulations, and also benefit from reviewing the HOA’s business. After all, their potential purchase is a literal investment in the HOA. Prospective buyers need to be aware of these problems if the HOA has any financial problems or other issues in its history.
Furthermore, HOA records can make a significant difference for professionals who may provide services to the association. For example, an association manager will need to review the HOA’s records to do a thorough job managing the community. They will also need access to financial documents if they are creating a new management system for the association by using association management software like CINC Systems.
CINC’s centralized platform vastly improves financial transparency, giving association managers instant access to financial records and other important records, empowering them to make informed decisions.
In some states, HOAs are allowed to charge for copies of public records. As an association manager, it’s unlikely that your clients will make you pay to access their documents.
However, there are several ways to bypass HOA record fees, for members of the general public who wish to learn more about the association:
Upon receiving HOA records, it may be helpful to ask specific follow-up questions to understand the information better and receive clarification. These question could include:
Understanding which HOA records are available to the public makes it easy to see how associations function and how they help their communities.
For further help with HOA management, click here for a free CINC Systems demo.