As a nonprofit corporation in charge of operating real estate and carrying out duties set out in the governing documents, a community association generates a lot of paperwork and gathers a lot of information. Colorado law provides guidance about which of these constitute association records. Colorado also defines whether these records are available to owners or whether they are documents that need to remain confidential. Knowing this information in advance will make it easier to respond to an owner’s request for records.
It is important to remember that an owner is not required to provide a purpose for requesting records. The fact that the owner is an association member is sufficient reason to access records. However, as part of facilitating the review, the association may require the owner to describe the records with “reasonable particularity.” Many times, an owner may not have enough knowledge to describe the records with particularity, but simple follow-up with that owner can help narrow that down.
An association should always check its declaration and bylaws to see if they require certain records to be kept. In addition to those, based on Colorado law, a community association has to maintain and make available the following records:
- Records of receipts and expenditures related to the association’s operation;
- Records of any construction defect claims and settlement amounts;
- Minutes of member and Board meetings;
- Records of actions taken without a meeting;
- Records of committee actions;
- Written communications related to a Board vote by email;
- Member list with the name, physical mailing address and the number of votes of each owner;
- Articles of Incorporation;
- Rules and regulations;
- Responsible governance policies required by CCIOA and any other Board policies;
- Annual financial statements for the past three years and the most recent statement of assets and liabilities;
- Tax returns for past seven years;
- Current Board members’ and officers’ names, email addresses and physical mailing addresses;
- Most recent annual report filed with the Colorado Secretary of State;
- Financial records sufficient to allow the association to prepare a statement of account;
- Most recent reserve study, if any;
- Current written contracts;
- Contracts for work performed within the past two years;
- Architectural approvals and denials;
- Ballots, proxies and other records related to voting for one year;
- Any Board resolutions related to members; characteristics, qualifications, rights, limitations and obligations;
- General written communications to all owners for the past three years (i.e. newsletters, any annual letter from insurance agent regarding association insurance).
There are records an association may have which Colorado law expressly restricts from disclosure to owners. These are primarily related to privacy and are:
- Personnel, salary or medical records related to a specific individual;
- Members’ and residents’ personal identification and account information including;
- Bank account information
- Phone numbers
- Email addresses
- Driver’s license numbers
- Social security numbers
Many associations publish an owner directory containing more than just the information in the required membership list (member name, mailing address, number of votes). If owners provide their written consent, the association can continue to publish the directory with phone numbers and/or email addresses.
An association may generate records other than those required and may choose to make those records available. Depending on the nature of the record, the association should consider having its attorney review the record before it is released. Colorado law lists certain records that may be withheld, but the list is not exhaustive and as long as a record is not part of those that must be made available or must be withheld, it would fall into the discretionary category. The records listed in the statute are:
- Architectural drawings;
- Contracts, leases or bids under negotiation;
- Communications with the association’s attorney that are covered by attorney-client privilege;
- Executive session records;
- Records related to individual owners other than the requesting owner.
Access to records is important for association transparency as well as a member right. If an association has a website, many of these records can be posted on that website to make access easier for owners and administration easier for boards and managers. Some of the records are a matter of public record, but the association should consider posting the records in a member only section of the website.