Commission on Common Ownership Communities
Records and Documents
What are an association's most important documents?
The most important documents are the Declaration (which establishes the community as a legal entity); the Bylaws (which set out the basic operating procedures and powers of the association); and the house rules (which are the rules adopted by the association to regulate such things as architectural controls, parking policies, and so forth). These are generally called the Governing Documents. The Declaration and Bylaws are usually part of the land records and deeds for all properties in the association.
The Governing Documents can answer many questions, such as:
- How many persons should be on the board?
- Do we pay our board members?
- May board members also be employees of the association?
- Are there term limits for board members?
- Are there special qualifications for board members?
- How often must the board meet?
- Is a quorum required for meetings and voting purposes?
- How and when are dues collected?What are the collection procedures?
- How often, and by how much, can the board increase the assessments? When do members have to vote on an assessment increase?
- What rights of appeal are available from architectural review decisions?
. . . . and much, much more!
Can I see my association's documents?
Yes. Under Section 11-116 of the Condominium Act and Section 11B-112 of the Homeowners Association Act, almost all records of the association must be made available for inspection by the association to every member on request (The association is not legally required to give copies of the records). The owner must give a reasonable advance notice of his desire to inspect the documents. The association is allowed to charge a reasonable fee for making the records available and for copying them.
The association does not have to make certain kinds of documents available.These exceptions include:
- personnel records
- an individual's medical records
- records relating to business transactions currently in negotiation
- the written advice of the association's attorney
- minutes of closed meetings
Must all the documents be filed with a public agency?
No, if the association is a condominium. In that case the Declaration and Bylaws do have to be filed in the Circuit Court land records, but other rules do not have to be filed.
Yes, if the association is a homeowners association. Under Section 11B-113 of the Homeowners Association Act, all documents must be filed in the "Homeowner Association Depository" at the Circuit Court. The failure to deposit a document means that the rule involved is unenforceable until such time as it is properly filed in the Depository.