The 2023 Washington Legislature passed amendments to the statutes governing HOA and COA records keeping responsibilities that became effective 7/23/23. They clarified and in some cases changed the legal requirements that were previously in effect for over 20 years. These statutes prescribe Association duties regarding audits, the creation and retention of records, and the rights of owners to inspect and obtain copies of Association records.
Some noteworthy new provisions of these revised statutes and a few comments about them:
- Audits. The respective provisions regarding financial audit requirements remain essentially unchanged in the 2023 revisions.
- Bank Accounts. The respective provisions regarding Association bank accounts also remain essentially unchanged in the 2023 revisions.
- Retention Of Records. Records that Associations now must retain include the following (and a few others not specifically listed below):
- the current budget
- detailed records of receipts and expenditures “affecting the operation and administration of the association” and “other appropriate accounting records” for a 7-year period
- minutes of all meetings of both owner and the Association Board (other than “executive sessions” of the Board
- records of all “actions taken by the owners or board without a meeting” or “actions taken by a committee in place of the board”
- names and addresses for all owners
- the governing documents of the community and amendments thereto
- financial statements and tax returns for the past 7 years
- list of the names and addresses of the current Board members
- the most recent annual report filed with the WA Secretary of State’s office
- Association contracts for the past 7 years
- all materials relied upon in approving or rejecting any owner’s design or architectural approval request
- all material relied upon regarding any decision to enforce the governing documents
- warranties and insurance policies
- voting related documents
- notices to owners or to the Association per statute or governing documents
- Owners’ Right To Inspect Records. Under the revised statutes owners (and their agents) have the right to inspect and copy all Association records and documents other than some specifically excepted categories of same. Below are listed some of the excepted documents that owners do not have the right to inspect and some of my comments:
- all owners have the right to obtain annually without charge the list of current owners (subject to some very limited exceptions). With respect to all other records requests the Association can charge a “reasonable fee” to produce records and supervise the requester’s inspection of the same.
- records inspections are to be scheduled during “reasonable business hours” at the “office of the association or its managing agents” or “at a mutually convenient time and location”
- the Association shall redact from any records produced information regarding “personnel and medical records”, contracts and agreements “currently being negotiated”, “existing or potential” legal proceedings, attorney communications, Board “executive session” related records, “individual lot/unit files” unless requested by the lot/unit owner, unlisted phone numbers and “electronic address” (presumably meaning email address) of unit owners/residents
- No Duty To Create Documents. In response to records request the Association is not required to “compile or synthesize information”. In other words, the Association does not have to generate something in response to a records request that is not contained in an existing record of the Association.
- Electronic Transmission. An owner can request that the records be transmitted via “electronic transmission” if available.
These new statutory requirements may not be popular with all Association Boards or all owners, but they definitely provide clarity regarding an Associations records-related duties and owner’s records-related rights that was lacking in the prior statutory provisions.
If you have questions regarding these specific statutes or other HOA or COA legal issues, we can help.