One of the primary functions of a community association is to operate and maintain the property. In doing so, the association is responsible for maintaining a variety of records and documents, as well as providing access of that information to its members upon request. However, navigating the requirements for which records to keep and for how long, as well as what information should be provided to the members, can get complicated.
Recently, the Minnesota Supreme Court addressed records retention and requests at common interest communities in Minnesota in the case of Harkins v. Grant Park Association. In that decision, the Court analyzed a provision of the Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act (“MCIOA”), which states that “[a]ll records, except records relating to information that was the basis for closing a board meeting…shall be made reasonably available for examination by any unit owner…”.
In finding in favor of the homeowner, the Harkins Court held that the language in the statute referring to “all records” includes “any record that a common interest association keeps that falls under the categories listed in the first two sentences of the statute.” Those categories include records of the following:
- Unit owners meetings;
- Board of directors meetings;
- Committee meetings;
- Leases and other agreements to which the association is a party;
- Material correspondence and memoranda relating to its operations; and
- Financial records sufficiently detailed to enable the association to comply with statutory requirements.
Not only must an association maintain these records, they also must make them available to the owners upon request. An association cannot withhold records from an owner without a legal reason to do so. In a practical sense, this means that associations need to know what the records retention and requests requirements are in their jurisdiction and create a procedure for the records retention and request process.
The attorneys at Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC have extensive experience working with homeowners’ associations and common interest communities to develop policies for properly maintaining records and document. If you or your association have any questions about how best to handle records for your property, please contact our office today.