With another legislative session in the books, we are taking a closer look at the new laws to analyze how they will change association life as we know it. One important change impacts the retention of meeting minutes and electronic voting records.
In the past, most association records were maintained for seven (7) years, but there were a few documents maintained in perpetuity like the declaration, articles of incorporation and bylaws. Under the new law, all minutes of association, board and owner meetings must be permanently maintained in the official records of the association. While this change only relates to condominiums and cooperatives at this time, it is only a matter of time before this will be required for homeowner associations as well. Since the requirement is for all minutes that were ever created, homeowner associations should start saving all minutes now and ignore the previous seven (7) year threshold.
One question that comes to mind is what to do if previous minutes are no longer available (those from over seven years ago) or have gone missing for one reason or another. If you find this to be the case with your association, you could send a letter to all former board members to inquire if they have any minutes (draft or final) from their time on the board. Retain this letter in your official records to evidence a good faith effort to obtain the missing records. If copies are provided by previous directors, add those to the association’s official records with a note as to how they were obtained. Please keep in mind that currently there is no requirement to take these steps. This is just a suggestion to fill in any missing history that you may need to answer a records request that go back further than seven (7) years.
The new law also requires condominiums and cooperatives to maintain electronic records relating to voting by members for one (1) year from the date of the election, vote or corresponding meeting. Electronic records must be maintained differently than paper records, for obvious reasons. Associations should take the time to create an electronic records storage and retrieval policy to ensure that records are similarly stored and maintained for easy access in the future.
Finally, it is important to highlight a change in the deadline to respond to official records requests. Now all associations, homeowners, condominiums and cooperatives have 10 business days to respond to official records requests. Previously condominiums and cooperatives had 5 business days to respond, which was a very short time period especially if records were in transit between management companies or other normal scheduling difficulties. The additional time will be a welcome change to those juggling schedules and coordinating records inspections.
While this is just a glimpse into record keeping requirements for associations, there are many more important changes that have come out of the 2018 legislative session. For more information about the new laws, please refer to our 2018 Community Association Update and keep an eye out for additional articles that will provide a more in-depth review of some of the legislative changes. If you have any questions about implementation of these changes or how they affect your association, please contact your association’s general counsel.