Q&A: Access to Owners’ List

Q. Can a unit owner demand to see a copy of the monthly list of unit owners’ payments of the monthly HOA?

                        — Interested Stakeholder

A. “A unit owner can review a compilation of the association’s financial records,” replies Hackensack-based attorney Donald Onorato, “but they cannot see an individual unit’s account owner’s, based not only on privacy concerns, but a potential violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

“First, the association is responsible under N.J.S.A. 46:8b-14(g) for “the maintenance of accounting records, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, open to inspection at reasonable times by unit owners.” The protection of privacy is set forth in N.J.S.A. 46:8b-13(a) which states all meetings of the governing board at which binding votes are taken shall be open to unit owners except (1) “any matter the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of individual privacy”; or “(2) any pending or anticipated litigation...”

“Most associations are required to obtain a yearly audit from a certified public accounting firm, which information is available to unit owners and provides an owner with all the pertinent and necessary information with respect to an association’s financial health.  Additionally, if an owner is concerned with an association’s common maintenance arrears, they can gather from the provided “accounting records” the amount of common area maintenance arrears which have accrued with respect to the association.  Again, while an owner cannot view an individual unit owner’s account, if a unit owner is concerned for example that the association is not taking sufficient steps to collect arrears which may have a negative financial impact on the association, the provided documents including the audited financial statements would provide that information to them.”

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