Records Not Subject to Inspection

A member’s right to inspect and copy various association records is not absolute and may be limited by the year the requested record was prepared as well as the contents of the requested record.

General Time Limitations: Current and Previous Two (2) Fiscal Years
An association is only required to produce records for its current fiscal year and for its two (2) previous fiscal years. (Civ. Code § 5210(a)(1); See also “Deadlines for Producing Records.”) However, minutes of member meetings, board meetings, and meetings of committees with decision-making authority must be made permanently available for inspection. (Civ. Code § 5210(a)(2).)

Records Which may be Withheld or Redacted
The following includes records which are not subject to inspection and/or which may be withheld or redacted pursuant to Civil Code Section 5215:

Written Explanation for Withholding or Redacting Records
An association that denies or redacts records must, if so requested by the requesting member, “provide a written explanation specifying the legal basis for withholding or redacting the requested records.” (Civ. Code § 5215(d).)

Costs of Redacting Records
Where any record requested by a member will need to be redacted before being produced, the association may charge the member “an amount not in excess of ten dollars ($10) per hour, and not to exceed two hundred dollars ($200) total per written request, for the time actually and reasonably involved in redacting an enhanced association record.” (Civ. Code § 5205(g).) The association is required to inform the member of the estimated redacting costs, and the member is required to agree to pay those costs, before redacting the records and providing them to the member. (Civ. Code § 5205(g); See also “Member Record Inspection Rights” and “Fees & Costs for Records.”)

Limitation of Liability
“No association, officer, director, employee, agent or volunteer of an association shall be liable for damages to a member of the association or any third party as the result of identity theft or other breach of privacy because of the failure to withhold or redact that member’s information under this subdivision unless the failure to withhold or redact the information was intentional, willful, or negligent.” (Civ. Code § 5215(c).)

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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.

  • Smith v. Laguna Sur Villas Community Association
    (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 639

    [Association Records; Attorney-Client Privilege] A HOA, the corporate entity, is entitled to claim attorney-client privilege for communications between the HOA and its attorneys. The HOA’s members are not the holders of the privilege; rather, the HOA’s Board of Directors is the holder of the privilege.

  • Chantiles v. Lake Forest II Master Homeowners Association
    (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 914

    [Director Inspection Rights; Privacy] A director’s record inspection rights may be limited by the association’s duty to protect the privacy rights of its members in their voting decisions.

Related Links

Access to HOA Membership List Must be for a Proper Purpose – Published on HOA Lawyer Blog (April, 2017)