“Right to See HOA Records Process Questioned” – News-Press

“Right to See HOA Records Process Questioned” – News-Press

Q: I understand that the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act states that if a request to inspect records is sent by certified mail and the association fails to make their records available within 10 business days, the statute imposes a rebuttable presumption that the association willfully failed to comply with the owner’s right to inspect. However, can an association require that all requests to inspect records be sent by certified mail, or is an owner permitted to send a request to inspect records by e-mail, hand-delivery, or U.S. Mail? (J.L., via e-mail)

A: As you correctly state, Chapter 720, Florida Statutes (the “Florida Homeowners’ Association Act”) provides that if a request to inspect records is sent to the association by certified mail, return receipt requested, and the association fails to make the official records available for an owner’s inspection within 10 business days of receipt of such a request, there is a “rebuttable presumption” that the association willfully failed to comply with the owner’s right to inspect. The statute does not say that certified mail is the only method of requesting records, only a method where the association bears the burden of proof.

The statute goes on to state that the association may adopt reasonable written rules governing the “frequency, time, location, notice, records to be inspected, and manner of inspection.” However, the association may not require that an owner demonstrate a “proper purpose” for the inspection or state any reason for the inspection. Further, rules may not limit an owner’s right to inspect records to less than one eight-hour business day per month.

The statute specifically states that the association may adopt reasonable rules concerning “notice” for records inspection. As such, the association may adopt a rule specifying how notice must be delivered to the association including the manner of delivery, as long as such a rule is “reasonable.” While I am not aware of any appeals court case authorities I point, I think the argument can be reasonably made that a rule requiring that the written request to inspect be delivered certified mail, return receipt requested, would be deemed reasonable. Among other reasons, certified mail lessens the potential for whether an e-mail got through (or to the right person), when or if a letter sent by regular mail was delivered, or who is the proper party to whom hand delivery should be made, and in what manner.

Q: Our association has a community pool and needs to replace the signs. What are the sign requirements for swimming pools in Florida? (E.S., via e-mail)

A: Most community association swimming pools are considered to be “public swimming pools” under Chapter 514 of the Florida Statutes and regulated by the Florida Department of Health.

Section 64E-9 of the Florida Administrative Code requires, among other things, signs that notify pool patrons where reclaimed irrigation water is used in the vicinity of the pool. Signs must also specify the maximum bathing load, and due consideration must be given to posted safety guidelines related to steep slopes, diving areas, deep water, underwater obstructions, dangerous wildlife, or lifeguard not on duty.

All spa and pool signs are to be posted as approved by the local building department. Most local building departments follow Section 454.1.2.3.5 of the 2020 Florida Building Code.

For example, this Code requires signs to have lettering that is at least 1-inch in height and legible from the pool deck and to contain the bathing load, the pool hours, notice to shower before entering the pool, and regulations regarding glass, food, drinks, and animals in the pool area.

Joseph E. Adams is a Board Certified Specialist in Condominium and Planned Development Law, and an Office Managing Shareholder with Becker & Poliakoff. Please send your community association legal questions to jadams@beckerlawyers.com. Past editions of the Q&A may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com.