Charging for Photocopies
—Seeking Freedom of Information
“It is not contradictory to the statute for the trustees to impose a reasonable charge for the pro-rata cost of clerical and secretarial time in making the required photocopies. There is no reported case on the issue to give definitive guidance, but it is highly unlikely that a court faced with this issue would disallow secretarial and clerical costs like these — assuming they are reasonable and not set at an extortionately high level.
It is obvious that the spirit of the statute is that the person seeking the information should pay for it, not that the charge should be imposed on all the unit owners. It is clearly not the intent of the statute to have the condominium association as a whole pay for documents requested by individual owners or mortgagee banks, and the fact that the language of the statute does not specifically include the words “including an employee’s hourly rate for costs incurred” does not mean they are not included in the general expectation that if you want copies of the documents you have to reimburse the association the cost of producing them for you. A unit owner arguing to the contrary would have a tough time making his or her point.
“In this context, these trustees acted appropriately in levying a charge (and, although it doesn’t say so, incorporating it into the rules and regulations of the association). This is quintessentially the trustees’ area of concern – the operation and control of the common areas and elements of the condominium – and is usually part and parcel of the trustees’ rule-making authority as set forth in the Declaration of Trust. It would not be, in the typical set of condo docs, something that is subject to an amendment requiring a super-majority of unit owners’ approval.”