For those of you who read the Miami Dade Grand Jury Report you know that right off the bat the report starts off with the fact that the problem of unit owner access to records is worse than ever before. It’s a problem that exists for decades. The Florida Legislature has not addressed the problem at all and the grand jury’s solution is to criminally penalize officers and directors for destroying the records and making them personally pay monetary fines should the directors be found to deliberately prohibit access to the records.
How about a more practical solution? An easy one.
How about amending Florida Statute 718.111(12) and Florida Statute 720.303(5) to include a provision that states as follows:
All of the official records of the association shall be maintained on a website that is accessible to all unit owners. An official record of the association shall be posted on the website within ten days of same coming into possession of the association and the association shall maintain a log indicating the exact record that was posted on the website, the date and time it was posted, and by whom. If the association is managed by a licensed community association manager and/or management company said manager or company shall be responsible for timely updating the website. If the community is not professionally managed, the responsibility to update the website shall be the association’s Secretary. If the Association does not have a Secretary, it shall be the responsibility of the President. Nothing contained herein precludes the association from contracting with an outside vendor, other than a management company or manager, to perform this service. The website shall not contain any of the information referenced in 718.111(12)(c)(7) and 720.305(5)(c). Failure of the association to place the official records on the association’s website as required herein, subjects the association to a $100.00 per day penalty. Nothing herein precludes the association from recouping this penalty from the party who failed to timely put the records on the association’s website and/or who obstructed the party responsible from doing so. This shall be the sole means of access to the official records of the association by unit owners.
The entire court system is now based on electronic filing. There are hundreds of thousands of lawsuits in Florida that are happening simultaneously and in every case, every document is now filed electronically. Everyone can see every paper that is filed. It is an amazing system that appears to be working flawlessly. If the entire court system can work this way, it is no big deal for a condominium or homeowner’s association to work this way.
No more complaints that the association was hiding the records in hundreds of boxes. No more complaints that a person failed to show up for their appointment. No more time taken away from the manager searching for records and needlessly sitting next to someone to ensure they don’t walk off with the records. Managers would no longer have to deal with hysterical screaming people in their office refusing to leave until they see every official record that exists. No more exorbitant costs for copies.
Management companies and/or other vendors should be allowed to charge an additional fee for this service. Failure to put the records on the website subjects the guilty party to a monetary penalty and not just the association. Managers would cooperate because they would be getting paid to perform this additional service and they know they would face monetary penalties and disciplinary measures if they failed to comply with the statutory requirements.
This is not rocket science. Everyone is posting something every day on their Facebook page or writing a comment on a blog. Putting the condo or HOA records on a website is not much more complicated and the requirement to do same is long overdue.