RECORD REQUEST -- OR KINDERGARTEN GAME?
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published December 11, 2010
Sometimes I can't avoid getting the impression that some boards -- in cahoots with community association managers and/or the association attorney -- have not advanced above the IQ-level of KINDERGARTEN.
For everybody who hasn't figured it out yet: ASSOCIATION BUSINESS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS!
The fact that lengthy provisions in the statutes regulating community associations deal with the issue of public records -- requests and enforcement -- shows clearly the intent of the legislature that association business should be conducted in the "SUNSHINE," meaning association records should be easily accessible.
But boards, with the help of community association managers and/or the association attorney, have invented a new game to prevent owners from inspecting records as required by Florida laws. I always wonder what they have to hide?
The new game is called RECORD INSPECTION HUNT -- and it's not only played at Easter. At date and time of the agreed upon inspection, the owner who dared to ask to inspect certain records is led into a room filled with boxes and drawer cabinets. Somebody, with a smirk on his/her face, will explain to the surprised owner: "This is where we keep all the association records. Please feel free to find the requested records in a timely manner. You have 4 hours time!" On inquiry the owner will be told that the Florida statutes don't require the record keeper to hand the owner the requested records on a silver platter -- and that allowing the owner to search drawers and boxes for 4 hours satisfies the wording of the statutes. "Good luck finding the records you are looking for!"
That was clearly not the legislative intent when these statute provisions were enacted. Why would the owner be required to specify the exact records requested, if he/she is sent on a Easter Egg Hunt for these records anyway?
Speaking Kindergarten? How about the owner joining in these "Kindergarten-games”? Easily done! All the owner needs to do is create a total chaos of the records and then claim that the requested records couldn't be found. That surely will start some continued fun and games!
COULD WE PLEASE ALL GROW UP?
Our homes and financial welfare are at stake!
Talking about record requests?
The Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes plainly ignores provision FS 718.501(1)7. The Bureau of Compliance even protects the violators -- boards unwilling to allow owners to inspect financial records. Despite the laws being very clear, the Bureau adds many more requirements for owners who feel like they are being played with by association boards and Bureau employees.
In short: The best government agency is useless if its employees are unwilling to enforce state rules.