What HOA Records May An HOA Owner See?

I receive many questions from owners who want to see association records. There is a comprehensive statute in California (Civil Code Section 1365.2) that addresses this question and it is accessible from my website at www.californiacondoguru.com and  also at www.ca.gov in the 29 California Codes. The owner who sent this question must be somewhat familiar with the law because the comments and questions are specific:

 

“As an owner (non-BoD) within my HOA, I’m concerned about the inability to gather non-financial information from the BoD and the current management company.  Per your suggestion, I’ve read several of your blogs regarding Record Review, and they appear to address certain topics, mostly financial – which is a blessing.  Further, it appears most “Record Review” (Enhanced or otherwise) is confined to financial matters.  Perhaps you could direct me to information (Records Review) requirements of non-financial matters?  This would include things like parking violations, pet violations, architectural applications, etc.

Here’s a question for your blog: 1) “Are HOA Architectural Review Request Applications available for HOA members to review?”
The Answer is NO, architectural review applications and individual property records are not listed as one of the items available for review. In fact, the law excludes “… the release of the information reasonably likely to compromise the privacy of an individual member of the association.”.
2) “If a BoD accepts or approves an ‘Architectural Review Request Application’, is this considered an executed contract?”
No, an application is not a contract in and of itself because it contains representations of only one party, not two or more. However, if the board signs signifying its approval, then one could argue that it constitutes an enforceable agreement which would be a contract. That does not make a difference in my response above, however.
 As reference, one of your blogs indicates a [vendor’s] “bid” typically ends up being the “contract”.  As I understand it, the “bid” must be made available to the membership, but the “contract” may be confidential (for the BoD only) and may not made available to the membership. Did I get that right? Are these examples analogous?
Bids may be kept confidential as they are part of the negotiations of a contract and contract negotiations are subject to executive privilege under Civil Code Section 1363.05. 
It is true that the laws allowing owners to inspect records relate mostly to financial records, minutes and budgets and reserve studies. The reason is that the legislators wanted owners to have access to records that show how their money is being spent. There was no intent to open up all records relating to the individual properties. It makes sense.  If an owner wants to retrieve records related to architectural or other records, they can be obtained by subpoena if a legal action is filed and the requestor and the judge believe they are relevant to the ability of a party to prove its case. Otherwise individual property records are generally not subject to review by members.
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