Keeping Track of Paperwork Properly Managing Association Records

While keeping the records of the association is not the most fascinating part of serving on a board of trustees, it is in some ways the most important. In fact, the flow of paperwork is the lifeblood of the community.

The association’s declaration, master deed and bylaws, and the co-op’s articles of incorporation and proprietary lease are the foundation of the business that is your typical co-op, condominium or homeowners’ association. The voluminous documents produced day to day are the records of its operation and the correspondence among the board, owners and management create the tenor of life within the community. Keeping documents and records tidy and communications responsible and transparent are key to running a functional and harmonious community.

The Letters of the Law

While the rules and regulations regarding producing and distributing the documents of the association are largely determined by the association itself in its declaration and bylaws, there are some required by each state. Of all the New England states, Massachusetts has the most extensive requirements for record-keeping, which are laid out in the Massachusetts Condominium Act (Chapter 183A of the Massachusetts General Laws).

“Massachusetts Chapter 157B and Chapter 183A govern co-ops and condos, respectively,” Henry Goodman, an attorney and principal at the law firm of Goodman, Shapiro & Lombardi, LLC, with offices located in Dedham, Massachusetts and Lincoln, Rhode Island, says. “Because a co-op is a corporation, corporate laws sometimes also come into play. In any event, the statutes and sometimes the organizational and regulatory documents of the entity provide for documents that the association is required to make public. For example, Massachusetts Chapter 183A, Section 10 lists documents that the (condominium) association must make available and sets forth the procedure for obtaining them,” he says.

Per the Massachusetts Condo Act, the association must keep copies of the following records for at least seven years: “a true and accurate copy of the master deed as recorded and amended; the bylaws, including amendments thereto, as recorded; the minute book, as maintained by the organization of unit owners, to the extent such minutes are kept; and financial records, including the following: records of all receipts and expenditures, invoices and vouchers authorizing payments, receivables, and bank statements relating thereto; records regarding the replacement reserve fund or any other funds of the organization of unit owners and bank statements relating thereto; audits, reviews, accounting statements, and financial reports relating to the finances of the organization of unit owners; contracts for work to be performed for or services to be provided to the organization of unit owners; and all current insurance policies of the organization of unit owners, or policies which name the organization as insured or obligee.”

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2 Comments

  • Relative to the availability of documents, in this age of electronic distribution, why must an owner go to the management office and photocopy a document at the owners cost ( plus time and travel)?
  • Refer to comments by Neil D in this age of electronic distribution. What is your answer? By following the letter of the law it could be difficult for a member to access records esp when the board does not want to release information. All owners should have access to records easily (certain exceptions) in this electronic age. Transparency is key to democratic rule.