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Subject: Record request vs Harrassment
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JoshS9
(South Carolina)

Posts:7


06/28/2018 12:55 PM  
HOA Treasurer - South Carolina

Apologies if this has been hashed multiple times.

I am curious to better understand the definitions or criteria that other board members may use to determine if a record request is valid or harassment. In our state as I understand it, there is a requirement that any request be (and I paraphrase)

done in good faith
specify the purpose
specify with detail the documents requested

I am currently struggling with both a disgruntled homeowner and confrontational board members that seem to be focused on "finding fault" with previous boards. The entire board of nine was recently elected as the previous board all resigned, mainly due to antagonism from a faction of the community that used social media to attack and accuse the previous board of wrong doing. This group of course is led by the disgruntled homeowner mentioned previously. I currently provide a Budget vs actual expenditure report each month that is available to the homeowners and a Monthly P&L also available to the homeowners. I understand the value of transparency.

My questions are:
How do others handle either extensive or repeated requests for financial information from residents?
How do I handle the fact that information may not be available from boards prior to my involvement (but the same fiscal year due to election timing). I cant show what doesn't exist. What is my liability?
How do others feel repeated and antagonistic requests from fellow board members should be handled.

(ex. send me the receipts for a particular transaction that was listed in the board meeting report). Should copies of individual receipts be supplied simply because a board member asks? ( i have made myself available for them to review the current and/or previous monthly records that include the receipts but none have asked. they appear to want copies, i believe to share with the disgruntled homeowner (who has a "go fund me" to sue the HOA)

Just an observation, with the expansion of social media and digital photography, how is it ok for a resident to be able to make copies of all associations records? My belief is that any member should have the opportunity to see, review, ask questions however copies just provide an opportunity for information to be shared publicly without the control of the board. Are we in an age where we should just give everyone read access to quickbooks and post copies of all documents online. What is the purpose of a record request? We have had record reviews that resulted in copies of checks being posted online without removing banking information, accusations made without full knowledge of the fact or the complete picture, and neighborhood division. all by a small group of residents and their board member friends

Thank you for your time

GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:2228


06/28/2018 2:20 PM  
In Florida a homeowner in an HOA does not need to supply a reason for why they want to see an official record of the association. "I want to see it" is good enough. I think honesty and transparency is the best way to handle it. Stop questioning their motives and let them see it. Let them make copies if they want, too, and don't worry that they're sharing them with others. It's a Homeowners Association, not a Board Members Association. If they think there's dirt to dig up, let 'em dig.
SheilaJ1
(South Carolina)

Posts:29


06/28/2018 2:45 PM  
Same answer as Geno, you have to give them if they request them, they don't need a reason. You could try a viewing and copying fee schedule resolution. If they find wrong doing in the previous board, then let them spend the money to sue, that is their right.

They can use social media all they want as long as they state facts and even if they don't state facts, record it and answer it at the appropriate time with consent from all board members. You state may not be available due to the fiscal year or election, then to them it would mean you do have something, so you have to let them see it and copy it. You ask, how do you handle extensive requests? You do things by the book and properly then you should have no issues giving copies of items allowed under the law.

Receipts should be provided, especially to a a board member if requested. They are allowed to make copies at their expense. Yes, a resident can make copies of anything available on the list of documents under the law. You can black out the identification information.

Seems like your previous was guilty of something if they all resigned, you'll probably be in a bit of a mess for a few months, it will pass.
JoshS9
(South Carolina)

Posts:7


06/29/2018 4:35 AM  
Thank you for the responses. The theme appears to be the same, give them whatever they want.

As I said before I am a believer in transparency, just feeling like these requests are being used as a weapon.


A fee schedule was mentioned, I'm curious what others charge for that? I have put together a review/request procedure that includes a .25 per page charge for documents requested. Would that seem appropriate to the readers here?


GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:349


06/29/2018 5:18 AM  
Viewing and provision of copies has long been a real pita for Secretaries and Treasurers.

My view, believing the need to be utterly transparent, is simply to scan and post all records possible. This requires some form of online storage, but, in the end, may save everyone time and effort.

The concept of paying for copies seems a bit out of our time.
JoshS9
(South Carolina)

Posts:7


06/29/2018 6:35 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 06/29/2018 5:18 AM
Viewing and provision of copies has long been a real pita for Secretaries and Treasurers.

My view, believing the need to be utterly transparent, is simply to scan and post all records possible. This requires some form of online storage, but, in the end, may save everyone time and effort.

The concept of paying for copies seems a bit out of our time.





George just curious, do you work for or use a management company? While I can understand the thought process, that would be quite a large amount of time. Also the technical requirements to keep it within the membership could be a full time job. We are currently self managed with volunteers.

Are there any people here that do what you are suggesting, put the full financial record, invoices, receipts, bids, contracts, reports out electronically for all members to access?

It would be interesting to know how it worked out.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:349


06/29/2018 8:13 AM  
Do not work for a management company.

On the Board in the neighborhood where I live, but not an officer. Am on the Board and the Secretary for a neighborhood where I have rental properties - if you do a search you can see my path of discovery with this rental neighborhood - lot of older folks, and they needed help, so I jumped on board to try and fix their issues.

I was on the Board of another neighborhood from 1997-2007, was President for 5 years, and Secretary for three.

I have average computer skills, and, while dependent on the size of the neighborhood (current rental neighborhood has 189 single family homes and no management company), it would, I believe be very easy to just scan those things that aren't already electronically developed and presented and then put them on the neighborhood website (with proper protections to ensure only members have access).

Is it a different concept than most Bylaws discuss - i.e. no one has to make appointment to view anything - everything is open and free (except for the cost of the website and the time of the volunteer putting the info on the website) - yeah, kinda hard to get ones head around it.

For large neighborhoods this won't work with volunteers - and, the level of effort required for a management company would need to be negotiated for the contract between HOA and MC.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:349


06/29/2018 8:15 AM  
As a for instance, I just spent a few hours organizing the files mess that I was given - a few years worth of minutes, and financials out of 20 years of HOA existence - the others lost - then scanning and putting on a trial website. Pretty easy - way easier if someone had been doing it all along.
JoshS9
(South Carolina)

Posts:7


06/29/2018 11:08 AM  
That brings up another aspect of my situation. You obviously are "missing" documentation that you cannot make "appear". What is your response to a homeowner that says "why don't you have XXX"?

It just doesn't exist, not my problem? I joke, but how do you get homeowners to understand that it has happened in the past, and I am not responsible for the past, only correcting things and moving forward.



SheilaJ1
(South Carolina)

Posts:29


06/29/2018 2:18 PM  
Unfortunately for you are responsible for the past and any records that cannot be found. You then must state the "to my knowledge" the documentation cannot be found or "to my knowledge" does not exist. You can state you have "x" and "z" but not "y"

Seems like you don't want to do your job, perhaps its better for you to be just a director and give the extra duties of an officer to someone else.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:349


06/29/2018 2:22 PM  
I researched the records, searching higha so low among anyone with anything. Found out three presidents back, the fellow died unexpectedly and his family came and threw everything the didn’t want away within 3-4 days. Everything from 1996- 2012 or so is gone.

I tell anyone who asks exactly what happened.

If you don’t know what happened, I would first try and find out the circumstances and then explain you expended significant time and effort and found x, then more from y, but that is all there is.

If anyone wanted to give me grief, I would ask them to from a search committee to try and help find more.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:7594


06/29/2018 2:30 PM  
Josh

Allow them total access to everything you have. If questioned about something not there then simply reply, that is all I have. If you do not have the ability to photocopy at $0.25 per copy, then tell them they will have to make provisions to make any copies they desire. Do not allow them to take any originals. Do not stand in their way. Be open and win them over.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:7477


06/29/2018 3:32 PM  
Witch hunting has always been a problem and will always bee a problem with HOA's. It's like dating that person who keeps insisting you have cheated on them and you haven't. No convincing and you keep going in circles.

It's really in the way you take it. Be patient and be open. Don't argue over it. Some answers will never be good enough. Accept that criticism but don't take it personally. Your basically in the complaint department of your HOA. They want records, then they have to pay for the copies. They want to hear the backstory, then they should have been more involved.


Former HOA President
BancsS
(Iowa)

Posts:52


06/29/2018 6:47 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 06/29/2018 3:32 PM
Witch hunting has always been a problem and will always bee a problem with HOA's. It's like dating that person who keeps insisting you have cheated on them and you haven't. No convincing and you keep going in circles.

It's really in the way you take it. Be patient and be open. Don't argue over it. Some answers will never be good enough. Accept that criticism but don't take it personally. Your basically in the complaint department of your HOA. They want records, then they have to pay for the copies. They want to hear the backstory, then they should have been more involved.




Not all document requests are "Witch hunting." There are some states with no open meeting laws. It's a way for members to get board meeting minutes and current financial information. It's a way for members to stay informed when board meetings are not open to the members. Just saying. But I do agree that some may be looking for irregularities because they like to create conflict. Requiring payment for copies is certainly reasonable.

JoshS9
(South Carolina)

Posts:7


07/02/2018 1:37 PM  
Sheila,

I would like to indicate that you are making a very broad statement regarding my desire to do my job. Indeed, I take it very seriously and have implemented a very thorough record keeping process. I am committed to the time necessary to do the job to the best of my abilities. This is far from a "its too hard" approach. My questions revolve around the balance between being open and being a door mat. To be expected to jump whenever a person has a request, regardless of how frivolous) is not appropriate especially from other board members. Just to be clear I already do provide regular reporting for the residents that is freely available. I have nothing to hide.

I do not work FOR the board I work WITH the board.

I appreciate everyone's responses, yes openness and transparency is appropriate, allowing the information to be available is good. Creating a fair and consistent process is key.

I have created a committee that includes homeowners to discuss and create the procedures to insure fair and reasonable requests by residents. As many have stated I expect to have a "price per page" as that seems to me to be a fair and appropriate method of minimizing the frivolous nature of some requests.


KerryL1
(California)

Posts:5389


07/02/2018 3:14 PM  
Is there, Josh, anything in your governing documents of SC state Codes about what you must give Owners, and what you don't have to search for?

CA Codes are said to be very favorable to Owners, but as in my above, we do not have to dig around for records older than two years plus the current year, nor compile a category items that're not normally filed together. We also, of course, must protect the privacy of all owners and have other materials we're not required to share, e.g., bids that were not accepted.
JoshS9
(South Carolina)

Posts:7


07/03/2018 6:28 AM  
Kerry,

It is very general, "records of the association" language. Our bylaws are clear that the records are available for review, SC non profit - and recently passed HOA bill indicate that the have access after providing a reason with specificity, specific documents requested and done in good faith.

Its again vague in the details of what a record is, as well as whether it can/should be copied.

I again have no desire to hide anything, and believe that members are entitled to know how the money is being spent. However, keyboard warriors that fail to even make the effort to show up at board meetings, where questions would be answered and information discussed, that demand copies of things with the statement simply of "because I am entitled" in my opinion are a bit much.

Again, every homeowner is entitled to get any questions they have answered, and be provided documentation when appropriate. I look forward to the feedback from the committee being created to review and put procedures in place.

I know that any one person, no matter who they are, is subject to a bias that will influence their decisions. I want to insure that the a group makes decisions, not just me. After all, the homeowners really have the power. Then whatever the outcome, its simply a matter of following established guidelines consistently.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:7594


07/03/2018 11:16 AM  
Josh

What recently passed SC HOA bill are you talking about?

The below bill has been dead in committee for for several years.

FYI
S. 104

S.C. Homeowners Association Act

STATUS INFORMATION

General Bill
Sponsors: Senator Rankin
Document Path: l:\s-jud\bills\rankin\jud0015.pb.docx
Companion/Similar bill(s): 82, 122, 576, 3301, 3886

Introduced in the Senate on January 10, 2017

Currently residing in the Senate Committee on Judiciary



There is the SC Horizontal Property Ac but it pertains to high rise condo like associations. It does not apply to non-high rise HOA's.

JoshS9
(South Carolina)

Posts:7


07/05/2018 11:28 AM  
Indeed we have been watching HB 3886. Just went into effect

A245, R245, H3886

STATUS INFORMATION

General Bill
Sponsors: Reps. Crawford, Ryhal, Hamilton, Sandifer, Fry, Putnam, Clemmons, Yow, Anderson, Johnson, Hardee, Huggins, Hewitt, Duckworth, Bowers, Sottile, Crosby, Felder, Bennett, Thigpen, Whipper, Brown, Hixon, Taylor, King, Daning, Spires, Henderson, Pitts, Kirby, White, McCravy, Hill, Gagnon, West, Wheeler, Davis, Murphy, Hayes, Ott, V.S. Moss, Lowe, Jordan and McKnight
Document Path: l:\council\bills\agm\19130wab17.docx
Companion/Similar bill(s): 82, 104, 122, 576, 3301

Introduced in the House on March 2, 2017
Introduced in the Senate on April 4, 2017
Last Amended on April 26, 2018
Passed by the General Assembly on May 1, 2018
Governor's Action: May 17, 2018, Signed
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:4108


07/06/2018 10:34 PM  
Posted By JoshS9 on 07/05/2018 11:28 AM
Indeed we have been watching HB 3886. Just went into effect

A245, R245, H3886

STATUS INFORMATION

General Bill
Sponsors: Reps. Crawford, Ryhal, Hamilton, Sandifer, Fry, Putnam, Clemmons, Yow, Anderson, Johnson, Hardee, Huggins, Hewitt, Duckworth, Bowers, Sottile, Crosby, Felder, Bennett, Thigpen, Whipper, Brown, Hixon, Taylor, King, Daning, Spires, Henderson, Pitts, Kirby, White, McCravy, Hill, Gagnon, West, Wheeler, Davis, Murphy, Hayes, Ott, V.S. Moss, Lowe, Jordan and McKnight
Document Path: l:\council\bills\agm\19130wab17.docx
Companion/Similar bill(s): 82, 104, 122, 576, 3301

Introduced in the House on March 2, 2017
Introduced in the Senate on April 4, 2017
Last Amended on April 26, 2018
Passed by the General Assembly on May 1, 2018
Governor's Action: May 17, 2018, Signed


Josh is correct ... Effective date 05/17/18. https://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess122_2017-2018/bills/3886.htm

While it is short and does not cover everything it should ... it is a start.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:7594


07/07/2018 8:14 AM  
Posted By JanetB2 on 07/06/2018 10:34 PM
Posted By JoshS9 on 07/05/2018 11:28 AM
Indeed we have been watching HB 3886. Just went into effect

A245, R245, H3886

STATUS INFORMATION

General Bill
Sponsors: Reps. Crawford, Ryhal, Hamilton, Sandifer, Fry, Putnam, Clemmons, Yow, Anderson, Johnson, Hardee, Huggins, Hewitt, Duckworth, Bowers, Sottile, Crosby, Felder, Bennett, Thigpen, Whipper, Brown, Hixon, Taylor, King, Daning, Spires, Henderson, Pitts, Kirby, White, McCravy, Hill, Gagnon, West, Wheeler, Davis, Murphy, Hayes, Ott, V.S. Moss, Lowe, Jordan and McKnight
Document Path: l:\council\bills\agm\19130wab17.docx
Companion/Similar bill(s): 82, 104, 122, 576, 3301

Introduced in the House on March 2, 2017
Introduced in the Senate on April 4, 2017
Last Amended on April 26, 2018
Passed by the General Assembly on May 1, 2018
Governor's Action: May 17, 2018, Signed


Josh is correct ... Effective date 05/17/18. https://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess122_2017-2018/bills/3886.htm

While it is short and does not cover everything it should ... it is a start.





Short and in my view, rather useless.
JenniferG11
(Texas)

Posts:243


07/07/2018 9:37 PM  
Our Texas sate law and our by-laws say we may review documents at a reasonable time and place, which we read as the on-site office. People can make an appointment and go view them, or pay a fee for them to be compiled and sent to them. I am unsure about copies being made by the person coming to view. A small charge for using the HOA copier would seem reasonable to me.

If this is allowed for you, it would cut down on people randomly emailing you for this and that demand for you to find and send. Though, I personally appreciate that the few things I ask for are simply sent, and maybe you want to extend that courtesy to people who don't ask for a lot as well.

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