Access to Documents Understanding Residents’ Access to Information

Living in a co-op, condo or community association can simplify a lot: maintenance issues that keep single-family homeowners up at night aren’t a concern for condo dwellers, and there may even be a door person or concierge to sign for packages and keep an eye on who’s coming and going from the property. But multifamily community life has its complications as well. After all, the value of the investment in one’s home depends a lot on the consistent cooperation of neighbors, the management and the board to make informed, prudent decisions that maintain or increase the value of the property as a whole. 

A more active and engaged resident may want not only to attend open meetings, but to review association documentation periodically – either because he or she has a personal project or transaction that requires it, or just to make sure everything is on the up-and-up. Because it’s so important for both residents and board members to know what information and documents residents are – and are not – entitled to access, The New Jersey Cooperator spoke with legal and management professionals in several states to find out what a resident can expect to review, as well as what intel boards should keep confidential. 

Albert L. Pellegrino, President of P & A Management in Hamilton, New Jersey

“Typically, association members have access to all active and archived files, with the exception of personal individual homeowner files and collection matters.

“Most governing documents allow for the homeowner to review association financial records. This provides full disclosure and transparency; refusal to do so opens an association and management to potential legal action. Although some attorneys will argue that printed copies of files are permissible at the owner’s expense, it’s often unwise to have the association records released in a format that could fall into the wrong hands. Since we as management are responsible for maintaining the association’s files, we choose to supervise any review of those files. 

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