How to get the Board to Comply with Records Requests

§5235   Records Inspection – Enforcement  5235

(a) A member may bring an action to enforce that member’s right to inspect and copy the association records. If a court finds that the association unreasonably withheld access to the association records, the court shall award the member reasonable costs and expenses, including reasonable attorney’s fees, and may assess a civil penalty of up to five hundred dollars ($500) for the denial of each separate written request.

(b) A cause of action under this section may be brought in small claims court if the amount of the demand does not exceed the jurisdiction of that court.

Tons of stuff and information on Small Claims Court 

(c) A prevailing association may recover any costs if the court finds the action to be frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.

Links & Resources

Educational Community for Homeowners (ECHO)

Legislative #Intent Davis Stirling Act

Who is in charge of the association?

The homeowners are in charge of the association.   The board answers to the homeowners.  DRE Publication 39

Committee Meeting

Analysis CARA CA Alliance of Retired Americans comments, "In its study of the state's 36,000 common interest developments, the California Research Bureau reported that associations either do not disclose to homeowners how their money is being spent or else they report it inaccurately.

The report also states that between 14-20 percent of all lawsuits filed by shareholders against associations are for financial mismanagement. AB 1098 (2005)  corrects this lack of disclosure by association boards and lack of knowledge by homeowners. It assures that association shareholders (i.e., homeowners) have access to the association financial records to find out how boards are spending the billions under their control. It makes good fiscal sense that homeowners, who have the biggest financial stake, should be watching the books.  Committee Hearing AB 1098 April 2005 *     AB 314  1985  

Brown Act - Father of Davis Stirling

“The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.” Gov’t Code § 54950. *  First Amendment Coalition *

What’s the problem?

I don’t know what it is, but so many HOA boards, directors and property managers seem to think HOA documents, records and financials are all secret.  They are not!  We are all equal owners and it’s OUR money.  My shrink thinks the Boards and Property Managers might suffer from Napoleonic  Complex.  The legislative intent of Civil Code §5200  is for homeowners to be able to see what the boards are doing as the home owners have the biggest stake in it.  There may be 300 homeowners but 5 people on the board, so that makes sense doesn’t it?

Here’s an 2.22.2015 article from the LA Times on information requests.

Corporations Code sections 8330, 8333, 8334; Civil Code sections § 5200, 5205, 5210, 5260

Here’s extensive Information on filing Small Claims Actions  where I’ve searched and searched the internet and believe I have just about every Guide, video, judges manual on how to file and present your case. If you know of something else that’s helpful please put it in the comments below with a link to the source.

Small Claims is still very exact.  You must show the Judge what codes you are talking about.  Especially important is Civil Code §5235 (b) that allows Small Claims to hear your case, and not hiring an attorney and going to Superior Court as some of the other provisions of Davis Stirling mandate!   In my experience, the Judge will put out their copy of the code, see picture at the right and double-check it.  Then show your written requests for records.  I’m not an attorney, you really should read and check all the guides, forms etc. on Davis Stirling,  Small Claims and Attorney Websites or consultation.

Hopefully the HOA will learn as the Judge can impose a $500 fine under (a).  If you go to Superior Court and use an attorney, the HOA can be forced to pay your attorney costs (a).

I won a judgment against my HOA for 2 counts, $1k in fines around 10 years ago.  Unfortunately, the HOA keeps wanting to call everything confidential.  It’s a constant struggle.  Even though it’s not an item for executive session §4935. or an item that is permissible to withhold or redact under 5215.   I made the mistake of letting the fine go… based on the HOA promise to give records in the future.  It hasn’t happened.  The Board doesn’t understand what a contract is, especially consideration.

I guess it’s Napoleonic  Complex  if anyone has any other ideas, please put them in comments below.  Especially helpful would be links if you have a citation – proof.

IDR Internal Dispute Resolution – Meet & Confer – ADR Alternate Dispute Resolution

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