For years we have tried to access association books and records but we have been denied. Even upon hiring an attorney and they have also been denied. What else can we do? We suspect fraud and perhaps this is why the association rejects our certified request. We do have evidence of monies not accounted for. Our attorney is inexperienced in this field. Should we hire a fraud attorney? Any suggestions?
Condominiums and other common interest developments in California are governed by the Davis-Stirling Act, which is currently Civil Code section 1350 et seq., but will be Civil Code section 4000 et seq. effective January 1, 2014. Both the Act and your Association's governing documents give Association members the right to access Association books and records. Civil Code section 5205 requires the Association to make its records available for inspection and copying by a member of the Association or its designated representative. Under Civil Code section 1365, the Association must distribute to all its members a pro forma operating budget or alternatively a summary budget with written notice that the operating budget is available at the business office of the Association.
Your Board clearly is not fulfilling its obligations and should be voted out. Otherwise, legal action may be required to compel production of the records. Under Civil Code section 1354, in any legal action to enforce the Association's governing documents (e.g., CC&R's, bylaws, etc.) the prevailing party is entitled to recover its reasonable attorneys' fees.