Q&A: Show Me the Money!

Q. I live in a condo complex in Rhode Island. I only receive a financial statement once a year. I would like a monthly expense sheet and income tax return sent to me. The management company and the treasurer have not answered me. Is there anything I can do to receive these copies?    

                — Looking for Transparency  

A. “The Rhode Island Condo Act, specifically, RIGL 34-36.1-3.18 (Association Records) states that ‘the Association shall keep financial records sufficiently detailed to enable the association to comply with section 4.09,’” says Frank Lombardi, a partner at Goodman, Shapiro and Lombardi, a law firm with offices in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. “That would be the resale certificate requiring a statement as to how much the unit owner owes on his or her unit; fees payable by unit owners; capital expenditures anticipated over the next two  years, reserve account amounts for capital projects, if any; balance sheet and income and expense statements. 

“The Act states: ‘All other financial and other records shall be made reasonably available for examination by any unit owner and his or her authorized agent.’ In my opinion, ‘reasonably available’ means the unit owner and/or his representative can come at a time convenient for the board and/or its own property manager, at the office where the docs are stored, subject to privacy and security conditions. Copies should be at the unit owner’s expense. The number and content of the copies should be reasonable as well — not ‘everything you got.’  

“Ditto, if and only if monthly expense sheets are done, they can be made available for examination and copying within reason. Unit owners shouldn’t be permitted to constantly hound the financial services personnel and question every single expense every single month.  Mailing them to unit owners is unreasonable in my opinion. Tax returns, again, available for examination and copying only, not by mail.”

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