A member’s right to inspect and copy various association records includes the inspection and copying of the association’s membership list. (Civ. Code § 5210(b)(6); Corp. Code § 8330.) The membership list would include the “name, property address, and mailing address” of all members except for those who have opted-out of the membership list pursuant to Civil Code Section 5220. (Civ. Code § 5200(a)(9).)
Purpose for the Request
The member requesting the membership list must state the purpose for the request, which must be reasonably related to his or her interest as a member. (Civ. Code § 5225.) If the board reasonably believes that the list will be used for another purpose, it may deny the member’s request. If the request is denied, in any subsequent action brought by the member pursuant to Civil Code Section 5235 the association will have the burden to prove that the member would have used the list for purposes unrelated to his interest as a member. (Civ. Code § 5225; Tract No. 7260 Association, Inc. v. Parker (2017).)
Liability for Misuse of Membership List
The membership list is a corporate asset of the association. (Corp. Code § 8338(a).) Pursuant to Corporations Code Section 8338(a), without consent of the board, the membership list may not be:
(1) Used to solicit money or property unless such money or property will be used solely to solicit the vote of the members in an election to be held by their corporation.
(2) Used for any purpose which the user does not reasonably and in good faith believe will benefit the corporation.
(3) Used for any commercial purpose or purpose in competition with the corporation.
(4) Sold to or purchased by any person.
Any person who misuses a membership list is liable to the association for any damage caused by the misuse, including punitive damages for fraudulent or malicious misuse of the membership list. (Corp. Code § 8338(b); See also “Misuse of Association Records.”) Where the association prevails in an action based upon the misuse of the membership list, the association may recover its costs and expenses, including reasonable attorney’s fees. (Corp. Code § 8338(d).)
Petition to Set Aside Request
Where an association believes the membership list will be used for an improper purpose, it may petition the superior court for an order setting aside the demand for the membership list. (Corp. Code § 8331.)
Copying & Mailing Costs
The association may bill the requesting member for the direct and actual costs of copying and mailing the membership list. The association must inform the member of the amount of the copying and mailing costs, and the member must agree to pay those costs, before the association copies and mails the membership list. (Civ. Code § 5205(f); See also “Fees & Costs for Records.” )
Deadline for Production
The membership list must be provided within the time frame specified in Corporations Code Section 8330 (ten (10) business days). (Civ. Code § 5210(b)(6); See also “Deadlines for Producing Records.”)
The California Court of Appeals has interpreted the word “addresses” under Corporations Code Section 8330(a) to include email addresses for the purposes of inspection and copying rights. (Worldmark v. Wyndham Resort (2010) 187 Cal.App.4th 1017.) However, the Worldmark case involved a timeshare corporation—not a community association, HOA or common interest development that is governed by the Davis-Stirling Act. The issue of whether a HOA is required to furnish member email addresses in connection with a member’s request for a membership list remains unsettled.
- Corporations Code Section 8338. Misuse of Membership List; Liability.
- Corporations Code Section 8330. Inspection of Membership List.
- Civil Code Section 5235. Enforcement of Records Inspection Rights.
- Civil Code Section 5225. Request for Membership List; Requirements.
- Civil Code Section 5210. Time Periods for Production of Association Records.
Related Case Law
- Tract No. 7260 Association, Inc. v. Parker
(2017) Cal. App. LEXIS 265 *
[Membership List; Inspection Denial] A homeowners association (HOA) may restrict a member’s request for access to the HOA’s membership list when the request is for an improper purpose.
- Worldmark v. Wyndham Resort Dev. Corp.
(2010) 187 Cal.App.4th 1017
[Membership List; Email Addresses] The “addresses” of members which must be disclosed with a member’s request to inspect the membership list pursuant to Corp. Code § 8330(a) includes the members’ email addresses.
Access to HOA Membership List Must be for a Proper Purpose – Published on HOA Lawyer Blog (April, 2017)