An owner recently requested copies of the association's finances. We typically provide a spreadsheet called a Breakout of Expenses which shows all expenditures and an account balance. Is that legally sufficient or are we legally obligated to provide copies of both deposit account AND expenditures if requested?
While I will explain further below, when I represent an HOA and am asked this question, I ask my HOA client "What is it you are worried about them finding?" When I represent an owner and ask for financials, and if the HOA refuses, I ask "What is it they are trying to hide?" After thinking about the question, you get into specifics.
The HOA is likely governed by the Georgia Non-profit Corporations Code. Under the Code, there are certain financial records that have to be provided to members simply upon request. Those would include financial reports previously given to the members generally. There are certain financial documents you probably never need to provide. That would include copies of checks or direct deposit information for you individual members; One member has no right to the bank account number for the account their neighbor uses to pay their assessments. And in most cases, you don't have to provide a listing of which members are delinquent on paying assessments.
Between those extremes are a variety pf records that a member is entitled to review and copy if they make a proper written request and have a proper purpose. If there are really records you don't want to produce, an experienced community association attorney can advise you on whether the particular records for the particular stated purpose has to be produced. It then becomes a matter of interpretation, and different attorneys will differ on the answer in a particular case.
Unless you have decided to make all records available, you should handle such a request only with advice of an experienced attorney. The reason: if you are wrong and withhold documents the member is entitled to, and the member takes you to court and has a court order you to produce the records, it is mandatory that the court order the HOA to pay the owner's attorney's fees for having had to take the issue to court. I have seen HOAs fight over the issue, lose, and end up paying $20,000 to $30,000 in legal fees to the owner. You don't want to be the next example.
Once you have assembled the documents you are going to let the owner review, the only thing further you are required to do is to make the records available for inspection and copying by the owner. You don't have to copy them and send them by mail. You don't have to match individual invoices for vendors to the check paying the invoice. And you don't have to reorganize the files to make them easier to review (although you could if you wanted to do so).
There are other specifics in the Code that I won't go into here, but this gives you a general idea. If you are facing such a request, talk to the association's attorney about what you have to do to comply with the request.
This answer is for general purposes only, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Randy has given an excellent response. I just wanted to ad that the Georgia Nonprofit Corporation Act also gives an HOA the right to "...impose a reasonable charge, covering the costs of labor and material, for copies of any documents provided to the member." I believe many of the HOAs and management companies charge about 25 cents a page for providing copies of records requested by the member inspecting the documents.
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