|EXPENSIVE REQUEST TO INSPECT RECORDS|
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published September 10, 2011
What would you think if you are a condo owner and receive a BILL FOR $ 245.00 -- just for making a simple request to INSPECT some public records of your association? Wouldn't you expect that the inspection takes place in a luxury suite, with champagne and caviar being served?
would -- especially since
This is the description of the location that was sent to the owners who requested to inspect the records: "The warehouse does have electricity and a restroom. I have arranged for an extension cord to be ran if you would like to bring a fan. Space is very limited so there are no chairs and table set up. We have folding chairs and a table that can be opened and set up just outside of the warehouse (due to the space availability)." I read it three times before I believed what I was reading! All that luxury for $245?
To be polite: I consider these charges outrageous -- and an obvious violation of Florida statutes.
The management company quotes FS 718.111(12)(c) on the bill, but leaves out important parts of this provision. CLICK HERE to read the complete wording of this important provision.
"PUBLIC" are public records if only the rich
owners can afford to inspect them? According to legislators who worked on
changes to the wording of this provision, it was clearly the legislative
intent to allow Record Inspections Free Of Charge, while the cost
of copies of these records -- if so specifically demanded -- could be
charged to the owners.
Many blogs and articles dealt with these "charges for record inspections," but I have so far not seen one public opinion from an attorney officially claiming that the Florida statutes allow associations and/or community association managers to charge owners for the INSPECTION OF RECORDS.
Steve Inglis, President of Bristol Management, boasts on the firm's website all kinds of experience: Past President of CAI, Member of Jupiter-Tequesta-Juno Chamber of Commerce and Member of Palm City Chamber of Commerce. Sounds impressive, but shouldn't a person with that kind of experience stop his obviously less experienced employees from sending out these kinds of outrageous bills, with amounts billed that have no legal foundation in the Florida statutes?
Despite protests from the owners, the demand still stands -- but the owners are still waiting for the champagne and the caviar!
Why is it that certain professionals consider owners in community associations their private cash cows -- and are even willing to disregard the Florida statutes in order to improve their profits?