For the Record ... Effective Records Policies Start Now
With the passage of HB 12-1237 during the final hours of the 2012 legislative session last week, associations moved one step closer to new requirements concerning the official records that they must make available to owners upon request. We fully expect this bill to clear the final hurdle on its way to becoming law. Once HB 12-1237 is signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper, associations will have until January 1, 2013, to implement new records policies and practices.
It's not too early for associations to start reviewing their mandatory inspection and copying of records policies and making necessary updates before the effective date of HB 12-1237. All associations should have clear policies that do the following:
- Ensure availability of all documentation expressly declared a "record" by statute plus any additional records defined in an association's governing documents
- Exclude specific documents from owner review
The biggest change most associations will make to their policies involves the removal of any requirement that owners state a "proper purpose" before getting access to records. Under HB 12-1237, associations must maintain certain records, and owners are entitled to access that information. Associations can help minimize the impact of owner requests for records on other association business by adopting clear policies, keeping records up to date, and making documents easily accessible.
While HB 12-1237 clarifies what constitutes a record, it gives rise to new questions that associations should consider, like, "How long do we need to keep all these documents?" and "As a board member, am I required to give owners my email address at work?" These questions, and others, suggest that associations should look beyond the standard inspection and copying of records policies and consider other operational matters, including
- Records retention policies for those records that the law does not expressly state retention periods
- Policies concerning board action outside of meetings, including when the board will utilize this approach to decision making
- Use of official board member email addresses in light of the need to disclose these addresses to owners
With some planning and consideration of the issues now, associations can tackle the new records requirements in ways that will give owners access to information without bogging down association business with copy and inspection requests.
If you have questions as your association considers its policies and practices, contact one of our attorneys for assistance. Also, stay tuned for classes about this new legislation taught by members of the Community Associations Institute's Colorado Legislative Action Committee.