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Subject: PM company discloses board info
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Author Messages
TV
(Washington)

Posts:91


11/14/2021 5:55 AM  
Hello

anyone every had a PM Company disclose Board (collective and individual)
private and personal info in monthly financials.

this was concerning expenses reimbursement, and a board member had to approve.

The PM company published these internal emails in the monthly financials.

they disclosed unit info, all board personal email address, the board email address,
the board president work info, including phone, address, and email, etc

I am really upset
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1104


11/14/2021 6:36 AM  
My guess is that the PM realizes that emails are records and, in many states, homeowners are entitled to those records. I'm not advocating publishing emails if it is not necessary but anyone, especially board members, should realize that any written communication with the HOA or board becomes a record that is usually open to all members.

The moral of the story is do not use an email address you do not want to become public and do not include personal information in your emails.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10584


11/14/2021 7:31 AM  
Records are PUBLIC. Addresses are PUBLIC. Names of the board members are PUBLIC or should be within the HOA membership. What the board approved is reportable. The reimbursed expense is reportable. The President place of employment? A little questionable there. Unless they used their company card to make the purchase? Email addresses unless requested to keep not public is also public.

A HOA is a CORPORATION. The owners are members. That means they have the right to the corporations information as "stock holders". Even the biggest corporations send out "Prospectus" to their stock holders. Which has to include information if they are being sued and other "damaging" information that may be involved in.

Not sure how you think things should be run. However, in a HOA it's basically should be run above board and open. I always say it's like leaving your check book open on the dining room table. All you family members you support can openly see it. Not spend it but view it.

Former HOA President
TV
(Washington)

Posts:91


11/14/2021 7:47 AM  
internal correspondence, internal emails should be private!

internal email addresses should be private

this is an outrageous act

congress is public, but internal emails and email addresses, home addresses are private
and not to be disclosed
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


11/14/2021 8:02 AM  
Posted By TV on 11/14/2021 7:47 AM
internal correspondence, internal emails should be private!

internal email addresses should be private

this is an outrageous act

congress is public, but internal emails and email addresses, home addresses are private
and not to be disclosed




RCW 64.38.045:

"All records of the association, including the names and addresses of owners and other occupants of the lots, shall be available for examination by all owners, holders of mortgages on the lots, and their respective authorized agents on reasonable advance notice during normal working hours at the offices of the association or its managing agent."

The information you state, in particular home addresses, internal e-mails, and e-mail addresses, are all available for examination by all owners under state law.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/14/2021 8:05 AM  
Posted By TV on 11/14/2021 7:47 AM
this is an outrageous act
I presume these monthly financials are available to owners without owners submitting a records request. If so, I agree. This is outrageous. Publishing the Board president's work (and so personal) info is particularly unacceptable. It was a reckless, foolish, stupid move by the manager.

I do wonder if the manager was trying to get revenge for something.

Depending on the subject matter, publishing emails between directors could hold the HOA out to liability.

I think you know you need a board majority who feels as you do to address this. Any chance of winning over a majority to see this as you do?
TV
(Washington)

Posts:91


11/14/2021 8:13 AM  
financials are published publicly.

I think the PM and PM company are stupid, IMO.

to me this is typical folly of the industry at large.

internal emails, internal email addresses, work info should NOT be available.

as I stated example of congress

AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/14/2021 8:15 AM  
Posted By BenA2 on 11/14/2021 6:36 AM
My guess is that the PM realizes that emails are records and, in many states, homeowners are entitled to those records.
I have not seen any HOA/COA law firm advise in general that emails be saved, either on the server or by, ugh, printing the emails out in hard copy.

If litigation begins for some reason, one side or another can demand that emails be preserved.

Good luck stopping a savvy owner or director from dumping all that is on her or his email server after getting such an order.

Attorney:
Now you realize you have to save all email communications, right?

Client:
Yes ma'am, Ms. attorney. I will save every single one of these (hysterical communications I had with other owners where we savaged the incompetent manager who is now suing the HOA for defamation).
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


11/14/2021 8:27 AM  
Posted By TV on 11/14/2021 8:13 AM
financials are published publicly.

I think the PM and PM company are stupid, IMO.

to me this is typical folly of the industry at large.

internal emails, internal email addresses, work info should NOT be available.

as I stated example of congress





Were you using your work e-mail to do HOA business? This is not a recommended practice. It is recommended by many to setup special e-mail accounts for HOA business to keep HOA work separate of the rest of your e-mails.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/14/2021 8:29 AM  
Posted By HenryS6 on 11/14/2021 8:02 AM

RCW 64.38.045:

"All records of the association, including the names and addresses of owners and other occupants of the lots, shall be available for examination by all owners, holders of mortgages on the lots, and their respective authorized agents on reasonable advance notice during normal working hours at the offices of the association or its managing agent."

The information you state, in particular home addresses, internal e-mails, and e-mail addresses, are all available for examination by all owners under state law.
Confidential records whose publication to owners would hold the HOA out to liability certainly should not be shared with owners.

Email addresses may or may not be a record of the association that an association may share freely with others. By my reading, if an owner says to a HOA, "Do not share my email address," then per the law, this needs to be respected.

The only records the Washington statute requires a HOA keep are described as follows:
RCW 64.38.045
The association or its managing agent shall keep financial and other records sufficiently detailed to enable the association to fully declare to each owner the true statement of its financial status.

TV
(Washington)

Posts:91


11/14/2021 8:37 AM  

i would love to sue some people for defamation.

seems very hard to prove and win
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/14/2021 8:47 AM  
Posted By TV on 11/14/2021 8:37 AM

i would love to sue some people for defamation.

seems very hard to prove and win
-- Yes. As I think you know, one has to show financial damage from the bad things others say.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


11/14/2021 9:52 AM  
Some people seem to be missing this:

the board president work info, including phone, address, and email, etc.

I'd be outraged as well and I certainly hope it was a mistake - although the PM should not have this info to start with since it has nothing to do with HOA business. The board should be looking for a new PM.

If I were one of the board members whose personal info was released, my lawyer would be busy drafting a strongly worded letter explaining to the PM the error of their ways. And they better hope that the board members aren't victims of identity theft or other bad things (eg. an irate homeowner showing up at somebody's workplace).

In addition the board should talk to the HOA's attorney about proper steps to take to deal with the liability caused by this - although this could be a problem because some or all of the board members have conflicts of interest as the aggrieved parties. Interesting situation...
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


11/14/2021 9:56 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 11/14/2021 8:47 AM
Posted By TV on 11/14/2021 8:37 AM

i would love to sue some people for defamation.

seems very hard to prove and win
-- Yes. As I think you know, one has to show financial damage from the bad things others say.



Yes, it isn't defamation if the info is factual. But that's not to say there will be no damages or personal harm of some kind - a talk with a lawyer would probably be helpful. (I'd still like to know how the PM had some of this info - if I were a board member or even a homeowner and were asked for things like my work info, I'd tell 'em to go fly a kite.)
TV
(Washington)

Posts:91


11/14/2021 10:07 AM  

well the pres will sometimes reply from work email, so info was in signature.

The PM sucks!! typical.

recently we had their maintenance service onsite,
and their employee came to our site on an emergency.

He had access via the lock box to the office, and he logged into our office computer
and changed the password.
locked us out.

this was recorded on video from the office,and IMO was intentional.

he was terminated, but the PM company seemed to care not



JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


11/14/2021 10:39 AM  
Being on my HOA BOD, I do not hide. I welcome any owner having my name, address, Email, phone numbers. After all I was elected to serve, not hide.
TV
(Washington)

Posts:91


11/14/2021 10:45 AM  

we are entitled to or privacy.

I have had my unit, home phone, personal email given away by a neighbor without my permission.
people came to my home for maintenance.

I have had IMO an employee give out my personal cell# given to residents,
and received angry phone calls from these people.

my life is my own!

we are entitled to our privacy!!!

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


11/14/2021 11:03 AM  
TV

It gets hot in the kitchen when one is on the BOD. If one cannot stand the heat, they should resign.
TV
(Washington)

Posts:91


11/14/2021 11:05 AM  

go take a flying leap into a lake
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:793


11/14/2021 11:13 AM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 11/14/2021 10:39 AM
Being on my HOA BOD, I do not hide. I welcome any owner having my name, address, Email, phone numbers. After all I was elected to serve, not hide.




Agree 100%. As a matter of fact, our names and email were on the inside cover of the phone directory. There is also a message that directs people to the PM for maintenance calls, reporting violations, billing questions, etc. For the most part, community members did not contact me directly but I didn't mind when they did.

If someone wants to be invisible serving on an HOA board is not advisable.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1104


11/14/2021 2:12 PM  
Posted By TV on 11/14/2021 8:13 AM
financials are published publicly.

I think the PM and PM company are stupid, IMO.

to me this is typical folly of the industry at large.

internal emails, internal email addresses, work info should NOT be available.

as I stated example of congress




In 2021, I would be shocked if there is any state that does not define an email as a record. So if you live in a state that requires HOA records to be open, then emails are open records.

I don't know why the PM felt it necessary to publish emails but I would not expect him or her to redact them first unless required by law. In most states, the owners are entitled to the information anyway. If you are sending an email pertaining to HOA business, then it is up to you not to include personal information unless you do not mind it being public.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1104


11/14/2021 2:23 PM  
Posted By BenA2 on 11/14/2021 2:12 PM
Posted By TV on 11/14/2021 8:13 AM
financials are published publicly.

I think the PM and PM company are stupid, IMO.

to me this is typical folly of the industry at large.

internal emails, internal email addresses, work info should NOT be available.

as I stated example of congress




I believe you are correct about Congress because they are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. It should be no surprise that politicians who pass laws play by different rules. For other federal agencies, all records are open to the public unless exempted by law.
TV
(Washington)

Posts:91


11/14/2021 2:52 PM  


internal emails are private!

where live is private!
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1104


11/14/2021 3:09 PM  
SMH
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10584


11/14/2021 4:04 PM  
NO internal emails within a HOA are never private. They are a matter of record and HOA business. Private email is what you do on your own time not related to HOA business.

Have to agree with JohnC here. If you signed up to be on the board, you did not sign up for privacy.

Former HOA President
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/14/2021 4:27 PM  
Posted By BenA2 on 11/14/2021 2:12 PM
In 2021, I would be shocked if there is any state that does not define an email as a record.
I have yet to see emails expressly defined as records that a HOA/COA must keep.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1804


11/14/2021 4:37 PM  
Expecting HOA communications to enjoy 100% confidentiality is unrealistic, even when there's an active effort to communicate sensitive matters with discretion.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1104


11/14/2021 6:39 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 11/14/2021 4:27 PM
Posted By BenA2 on 11/14/2021 2:12 PM
In 2021, I would be shocked if there is any state that does not define an email as a record.
I have yet to see emails expressly defined as records that a HOA/COA must keep.



I would imagine that most laws pertaining to records do not specifically mention email but they probably also do not mention paper. Most that I have seen state that certain records must be kept without mentioning the medium. Although, the courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently ruled for over 20 years that records include electronic mediums.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/14/2021 6:49 PM  
Posted By BenA2 on 11/14/2021 6:39 PM

I would imagine that most laws pertaining to records do not specifically mention email but they probably also do not mention paper. Most that I have seen state that certain records must be kept without mentioning the medium. Although, the courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently ruled for over 20 years that records include electronic mediums.
Yes, certain records must b4e kept, and the medium is not stated. But must all emails be preserved? Texas's TPC 209 says a HOA must make the books and records available to owners who request them et cetera. But "records" is not defined, and I am not persuaded that email exchanges are "records" as much as they are communications. Should phone calls also be recorded and the recordings then preserved?

I think many of the official records of a HOA are simply those that the board or manager in their judgment feels are important to keep to document xyz.

I wonder if HOA attorneys opine that emails between directors and whomever and the manager and whomever must be preserved. If so, at least this would go towards saving up discussion items for meetings, in front of owners, rather than communicating privately (and non-transparently) by email.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/14/2021 6:55 PM  
Florida at the moment says, some emails are records the HOA/COA must maintain. Some emails are not. More at https://ablawfl.com/should-board-member-e-mails-be-maintained-in-the-official-records/
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1104


11/14/2021 7:25 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 11/14/2021 6:49 PM
Posted By BenA2 on 11/14/2021 6:39 PM

I would imagine that most laws pertaining to records do not specifically mention email but they probably also do not mention paper. Most that I have seen state that certain records must be kept without mentioning the medium. Although, the courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently ruled for over 20 years that records include electronic mediums.
Yes, certain records must b4e kept, and the medium is not stated. But must all emails be preserved? Texas's TPC 209 says a HOA must make the books and records available to owners who request them et cetera. But "records" is not defined, and I am not persuaded that email exchanges are "records" as much as they are communications. Should phone calls also be recorded and the recordings then preserved?

I think many of the official records of a HOA are simply those that the board or manager in their judgment feels are important to keep to document xyz.

I wonder if HOA attorneys opine that emails between directors and whomever and the manager and whomever must be preserved. If so, at least this would go towards saving up discussion items for meetings, in front of owners, rather than communicating privately (and non-transparently) by email.



I agree that probably not all emails have to be kept (unless your state law or governing documents have a catch-all for "all records." Maybe I am being too literal but, to me, a record means something that is documented, like an email. Whether or not a record has to be kept is a separate issue.

The Texas code you mentioned does state (further down in the code) specifically what records must be retained and for how long and it does not include general communications between directors or owners. However, the OP said that the emails were financial records. Depending on exactly what is in the email, they may need to be retained.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/14/2021 7:36 PM  
AFAIC, if the emails are financial records, then redacting information pertaining to the president's workplace et cetera is justified, in the same way that the HOA attorney's billing statements may be redacted to protect information that is attorney-client privileged.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/14/2021 7:38 PM  
An unpaid volunteer director in particular has a right to have his/her regular workplace information kept private. To suggest that revealing this private information to owners somehow furthers transparency or the mission of a HOA is nonsense afaic. Directors are harassed enough without their having to face harassment using their workplace information.
GregM14
(Washington)

Posts:77


11/15/2021 3:32 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 11/14/2021 7:38 PM
An unpaid volunteer director in particular has a right to have his/her regular workplace information kept private. To suggest that revealing this private information to owners somehow furthers transparency or the mission of a HOA is nonsense afaic. Directors are harassed enough without their having to face harassment using their workplace information.




AugustinD,

While you may believe that there is a right to privacy, the law in Washington State doesn't give the property manager the right to redact information on e-mails that are presented to homeowners. I just read our contract with the property manager and it states that when there is a conflict between the state law and the board, the property manager will comply with the law or seek outside legal help (at association expense) to clarify what the property manager is to do.

As I have said, board members are well advised to setup separate e-mail addresses, especially separate from work, to discuss things with the PM.

It's even better to not use e-mail to make decisions but rather make decisions in a meeting where homeowners can be present if they so attend. That is what we are doing in our association (now) and it is working out nicely.
GregM14
(Washington)

Posts:77


11/15/2021 3:34 AM  
Posted By BenA2 on 11/14/2021 7:25 PM
Posted By AugustinD on 11/14/2021 6:49 PM
Posted By BenA2 on 11/14/2021 6:39 PM

I would imagine that most laws pertaining to records do not specifically mention email but they probably also do not mention paper. Most that I have seen state that certain records must be kept without mentioning the medium. Although, the courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently ruled for over 20 years that records include electronic mediums.
Yes, certain records must b4e kept, and the medium is not stated. But must all emails be preserved? Texas's TPC 209 says a HOA must make the books and records available to owners who request them et cetera. But "records" is not defined, and I am not persuaded that email exchanges are "records" as much as they are communications. Should phone calls also be recorded and the recordings then preserved?

I think many of the official records of a HOA are simply those that the board or manager in their judgment feels are important to keep to document xyz.

I wonder if HOA attorneys opine that emails between directors and whomever and the manager and whomever must be preserved. If so, at least this would go towards saving up discussion items for meetings, in front of owners, rather than communicating privately (and non-transparently) by email.



I agree that probably not all emails have to be kept (unless your state law or governing documents have a catch-all for "all records." Maybe I am being too literal but, to me, a record means something that is documented, like an email. Whether or not a record has to be kept is a separate issue.

The Texas code you mentioned does state (further down in the code) specifically what records must be retained and for how long and it does not include general communications between directors or owners. However, the OP said that the emails were financial records. Depending on exactly what is in the email, they may need to be retained.




These were not financial records. They were the board voting to approve an expense. That is a decision made by the board of directors, and the e-mails are the records of that decision that was made. E-mail votes clearly fall into the record category and need to be preserved for some length of time (not sure how long in Washington).
TV
(Washington)

Posts:91


11/15/2021 4:47 AM  


I totally agree

CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


11/15/2021 5:48 AM  
If the board president responded to HOA business using his work email address, then he is at least partly to blame here.

Many workplaces forbid the use of their resources for private business. This would be an immediate-firing, escorted-from-the-building offense in some places.

In addition, since in many states emails are discoverable if things wind up in court, any board member should have a separate email address for association business. Otherwise his personal stuff - or lord help him, his workplace's information - may wind up being disclosed to someone at some point.

But board members are not required to have their personal lives on full display to homeowners. That's not transparency. "Transparency" applies to association business only.

We've gotten way too casual about disclosing our personal data to all and sundry, and then we're shocked - shocked, I say - when we find our information in the hands of bad guys who do bad things with it. There is a real financial cost to the victim of identity theft - it's isn't just a whoppin' pain in the posterior that can take years to resolve.

When you buy into an HOA or COA, you become the financial and legal partner of a bunch of strangers. You have no choice. But automatically trusting them with your personal info is foolish.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/15/2021 6:20 AM  
Posted By GregM14 on 11/15/2021 3:32 AM
While you may believe that there is a right to privacy, the law in Washington State doesn't give the property manager the right to redact information on e-mails that are presented to homeowners.
By your reasoning, the invoices for attorney fees may not be redacted to protect attorney client privileged information from being released. Yet I understand this is common practice.

Second, the law does not prohibit redacting email addresses.

Providing private information about directors serves no purpose. In my opinion, any owner unhappy about the redaction of a director's private contact information can file a lawsuit.

I think you ought to read the Florida law firm's opinion on internal emails in general.

Lastly, TV has not made clear exactly what was in these emails. It's not clear that they even needed to be released.

I appreciate people's opinions here. Mine is different from several.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/15/2021 6:25 AM  
Posted By GregM14 on 11/15/2021 3:34 AM
These were not financial records. They were the board voting to approve an expense. That is a decision made by the board of directors, and the e-mails are the records of that decision that was made. E-mail votes clearly fall into the record category and need to be preserved for some length of time (not sure how long in Washington).
No, this is not how an action without a meeting is handled. From Washington Statutes:

RCW 23B.08.210
Corporate action without meeting.
(1) Unless the articles of incorporation or bylaws provide otherwise, corporate action required or permitted by this title to be approved at a board of directors' meeting may be approved without a meeting if the corporate action is approved by all members of the board. The approval of the corporate action must be evidenced by one or more written consents describing the corporate action being approved, executed by each director either before or after the corporate action becomes effective, and delivered to the corporation for inclusion in the minutes or filing with the corporate records.
(2) A written consent in the form of an electronic transmission will be deemed to have been executed by a director if it indicates the director's present intent to approve the corporate action and contains or is accompanied by information from which the corporation can determine that the electronic transmission was transmitted by the director and the date on which the director transmitted the electronic transmission.
(3) Corporate action is approved under this section when the last director executes the consent.
(4) A consent under this section has the effect of a meeting vote and may be described as such in any document.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8720


11/15/2021 9:10 AM  
I was just thinking along those lines, Augustin. "Action without a meeting" votes would be done by email so those emails should be copied and included with the next meeting's minutes as the statute says. Same in CA.
BobS38
(Oregon)

Posts:57


11/15/2021 9:22 AM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 11/14/2021 10:39 AM
Being on my HOA BOD, I do not hide. I welcome any owner having my name, address, Email, phone numbers. After all I was elected to serve, not hide.




this is the way.
BobS38
(Oregon)

Posts:57


11/15/2021 9:24 AM  
Posted By TV on 11/14/2021 10:45 AM

we are entitled to or privacy.






SMH....maybe don't volunteer to be a public leader?
BobS38
(Oregon)

Posts:57


11/15/2021 9:27 AM  
Posted By TV on 11/14/2021 2:52 PM


internal emails are private!

where live is private!




Please cite your sources. What State Law and HOA docs (bylaws, CCR's, etc) support your theory that HOA records are private?

While I agree that a lot of the internal, day-to-day communications, business, emails don't need to be published, they are still records and shall be provided if requested.
BobS38
(Oregon)

Posts:57


11/15/2021 9:29 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 11/14/2021 4:27 PM
Posted By BenA2 on 11/14/2021 2:12 PM
In 2021, I would be shocked if there is any state that does not define an email as a record.
I have yet to see emails expressly defined as records that a HOA/COA must keep.




a cursory google search shows that emails are considered records, as defined by several states I checked, federally, and in most legal definition websites....
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/15/2021 3:03 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 11/15/2021 9:10 AM
I was just thinking along those lines, Augustin. "Action without a meeting" votes would be done by email so those emails should be copied and included with the next meeting's minutes as the statute says. Same in CA.
Written consent on a unanimous decision for an action without a meeting is required. I am not persuaded that emails between directors leading up to a possible unanimous consent are records for the purpose of corporate statute records inspection requirements.

I believe the Florida law firm's opinion that I linked earlier has the most intelligence here.
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


11/16/2021 2:29 AM  
E-mail votes are just that - votes. The members have a right to know how board members voted on an action. If they vote using a company e-mail address and include their company signature, that's on the board of director. They should realize that votes by e-mail can't necessarily be kept private.

If the board member wanted privacy, they could have used a throw away e-mail address for board business. Or they could have declined to vote by e-mail and asked for the vote to happen at a board meeting, where homeowners are allowed to attend.

All of your posts about laws and rules that promote privacy of board members is nonsense.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/16/2021 3:01 AM  
Posted By HenryS6 on 11/16/2021 2:29 AM
E-mail votes are just that - votes. The members have a right to know how board members voted on an action. If they vote using a company e-mail address and include their company signature, that's on the board of director. They should realize that votes by e-mail can't necessarily be kept private.

If the board member wanted privacy, they could have used a throw away e-mail address for board business. Or they could have declined to vote by e-mail and asked for the vote to happen at a board meeting, where homeowners are allowed to attend.

All of your posts about laws and rules that promote privacy of board members is nonsense.
-- AFAIC, the statute on board actions without a meeting addresses the situation. Because of what the statute says, I think your points are non sequiturs.

-- Your approach, without a basis in law, requires the HOA to keep, as an official record, every email exchange.

-- Statutes and covenants do not require that every word the directors speak at board meetings be recorded in official minutes. In the same way, statutes and covenants do not require that every email the directors send must be preserved as official records.

-- I do not consider the Florida law firm's opinion to be nonsense. Why don't you address its points?
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/16/2021 3:08 AM  
Posted By BobS38 on 11/15/2021 9:29 AM
Posted By AugustinD on 11/14/2021 4:27 PM
Posted By BenA2 on 11/14/2021 2:12 PM
In 2021, I would be shocked if there is any state that does not define an email as a record.
I have yet to see emails expressly defined as records that a HOA/COA must keep.




a cursory google search shows that emails are considered records, as defined by several states I checked, federally, and in most legal definition websites....
-- The net is clear that emails are considered records that are discoverable in lawsuits. The same is true for text messages sent on cell phones. But as to whether emails from directors are records that HOAs must maintain as official records, the net does not really weigh in.

-- Do you believe that every email a director sends that has to do with HOA business must be preserved as an official record that is available for inspection by owners? It's fine if you believe whatever, of course. How some here wish to add more busy-work to HOA managers' and the board's plate is interesting.

TV
(Washington)

Posts:91


11/16/2021 3:08 AM  
my understanding from a condo law firm is documents are records, not emails.

documents created by board for association business, not emails.

the email vote was not in a board meeting, it was to approve reimbursement at the
"rule" stipulation of the PM company. one board member must vote to approve for reimbursement

but I know this rule is NOT always used
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10584


11/16/2021 3:52 AM  
Rule of thumb. Don't write anything in an email or on social media you don't want read. It's like public information after it leaves your head/hands.

Former HOA President
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10584


11/16/2021 3:53 AM  
Rule of thumb. Don't write anything in an email or on social media you don't want read. It's like public information after it leaves your head/hands.

Former HOA President
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


11/16/2021 4:05 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 11/16/2021 3:08 AM
Posted By BobS38 on 11/15/2021 9:29 AM
Posted By AugustinD on 11/14/2021 4:27 PM
Posted By BenA2 on 11/14/2021 2:12 PM
In 2021, I would be shocked if there is any state that does not define an email as a record.
I have yet to see emails expressly defined as records that a HOA/COA must keep.




a cursory google search shows that emails are considered records, as defined by several states I checked, federally, and in most legal definition websites....
-- The net is clear that emails are considered records that are discoverable in lawsuits. The same is true for text messages sent on cell phones. But as to whether emails from directors are records that HOAs must maintain as official records, the net does not really weigh in.

-- Do you believe that every email a director sends that has to do with HOA business must be preserved as an official record that is available for inspection by owners? It's fine if you believe whatever, of course. How some here wish to add more busy-work to HOA managers' and the board's plate is interesting.





I would consider an e-mail approving an expense to be reimbursed a record that must be preserved for some length of time. If an expense is approved that is questionable, say, reimbursement for food and drink at a local strip club, I would want to know which directors approved it. They don't have to be preserved forever (maybe preservation until the next board meeting where the e-mail vote is captured in the meeting minutes) but preserved for some reasonable length of time.

Also, the entire e-mail where the a vote was placed should be available for the members to view. Again, if a questionable reimbursement was voted upon, I as a member have the right to see the e-mail exchange that led to the vote.

My understanding is that the courts prefer that decisions be made at meetings where discussion is permitted to take and homeowners are permitted to observe. Sharing the e-mail where the vote is placed is allowing some homeowner observation, and I suppose e-mail discussions could be considered discussions, but my understanding is that courts prefer discussions.

I don't address the Florida posting because the OP lives in Washington that has different HOA laws than Florida.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/16/2021 4:21 AM  
Posted By HenryS6 on 11/16/2021 4:05 AM
I don't address the Florida posting because the OP lives in Washington that has different HOA laws than Florida.
-- I appreciate your elaboration. It appears like you (and myself, for that matter), the Florida law firm is concerned about transparency. The law firm discussion wraps up with the following:

Therefore, the best recommendation is for most communications regarding the operation of the community to occur at open board meetings where the membership is free to attend and the decisions of the board is memorialized in the minutes.

While you and I do not have to agree, perhaps we do agree about the importance of transparency. Owners should be allowed to witness how directors reach a decision. Where a state requires a comment period (at board meetings) by owners, owners should be able to give input.

-- Record inspection laws as they pertain to emails seem pretty similar to me from one state to another. I think much of the Florida law firm's counsel could be applied to a HOA in any state.
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:793


11/16/2021 4:27 AM  
Don't know if this helps or not but below is an excerpt from https://vf-law.com/big-changes-washington-state-hoa-law/

"Records that can be withheld from the owners are set out as well. These include the following: (1) email addresses and unlisted phone numbers, (2) personal information about other owners, (3) personnel and medical records related to individuals, (4) other owners’ individual files, and (5) contracts that are in the middle of negotiations. WUCIOA also authorizes associations to charge reasonable fees to supervise an owner’s inspection of records.

WUCIOA does leave some unanswered questions concerning records. WUCIOA fails to address whether emails of managers or board members are records of the association which members are entitled to view. “Records” includes both “electronic transmissions” and “tangible medium” (such as paper). However, the “association records” provision fails to mention email or provide information on their requisite retention or disclosure."
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


11/16/2021 5:40 AM  
I'm not a lawyer, but one reasonable criterion may be whether or not state law requires open meetings. In this case, discussions of association business must be noticed, have a published agenda, etc. etc. There should be no discussions via email, in which case there would be no reason to preserve them. Exception: open meeting states may allow email discussions for emergencies, and these should be preserved.

On the other hand, even in states that allow closed meetings, not every word uttered by board members will appear in meeting minutes. This suggests that not all emails would need to be preserved, although as a board member I kept everything and was careful about what I put in writing. If it's on the internet, assume it's there forever and thus discoverable.

One other observation:

While many advocate preserving everything in order to promote "transparency", it may also have the opposite effect of discouraging full and frank discussions among board members. I believe that off-the-record discussions have their place, although they can be misused. It's a balancing act and requires good judgement, and stuff like tends to resist hard and fast rules.
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


11/16/2021 7:22 AM  
This has been a very interesting discussion and I think pertinent to many homeowners associations. I am now not sure that I know the answer if associations are legally obligated to share e-mail correspondence between board members upon request of the members. I think this is an important question to have answered. A local homeowners association attorney runs a weekly webinar where they receive general questions about homeowners associations from board members and answer them in a general sense. I think this is a great question and plan on asking it for them to discuss at the webinar.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1594


11/16/2021 9:02 AM  
I'm curious as to what information your PM provides to the homeowners. In 13 years, I have provided just a balance sheet and and income/expense statement to homeowners on a monthly basis, and never once have we been asked for more.
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:783


11/16/2021 10:10 AM  
Max

We are occasionally asked for additional information by owners regarding past due accounts, generally at an annual meeting, occasionally at a board meeting during the owners forum. Examples:

-how many accounts are past due?
-what is the total amount past due?
-what is the status of the account(s) in the collections process--referred to the attorney, lien filed, etc.?
-how many accounts are on payment plans?
-what is the total past due amount currently on payment plans?
-at the monthly payment rate, when will the current payment plans be closed?
-are there bankruptcies in progress?

The answers to those questions are not found on financial reports routinely provided to owners or at the annual meeting.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1594


11/16/2021 10:17 AM  
Posted By BillH10 on 11/16/2021 10:10 AM
Max

We are occasionally asked for additional information by owners regarding past due accounts, generally at an annual meeting, occasionally at a board meeting during the owners forum. Examples:

-how many accounts are past due?
-what is the total amount past due?
-what is the status of the account(s) in the collections process--referred to the attorney, lien filed, etc.?
-how many accounts are on payment plans?
-what is the total past due amount currently on payment plans?
-at the monthly payment rate, when will the current payment plans be closed?
-are there bankruptcies in progress?

The answers to those questions are not found on financial reports routinely provided to owners or at the annual meeting.



In 13 years and 150+ properties, never been asked those questions by owners. I get them from lenders, not owners.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


11/16/2021 10:48 AM  
Posted By BillH10 on 11/16/2021 10:10 AM
Max

We are occasionally asked for additional information by owners regarding past due accounts, generally at an annual meeting, occasionally at a board meeting during the owners forum. Examples:

-how many accounts are past due?
-what is the total amount past due?
-what is the status of the account(s) in the collections process--referred to the attorney, lien filed, etc.?
-how many accounts are on payment plans?
-what is the total past due amount currently on payment plans?
-at the monthly payment rate, when will the current payment plans be closed?
-are there bankruptcies in progress?

The answers to those questions are not found on financial reports routinely provided to owners or at the annual meeting.



I absolutely wanted to know those things as a homeowner - I want to know if my business partners are cheating me and there is trouble on the horizon. If no one is asking, it's simply more evidence that the average HOA/COA member doesn't understand what they've bought.

FWIW, our financials include a Delinquency report, with info in summary and in detail. The summary page could easily be provided to homeowners and would answer most of the questions above.
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