Complaint Letters Are Part of Association’s Official Record

by Joseph Adams

Question: I live in a condominium and recently sent a letter to the manager complaining about the occupants of a neighboring unit. When the owner of the unit found out that someone complained, they asked for a copy of the letter. The manager gave them my letter. I feel that this is an extreme breach of my privacy and the confidentiality that the association was required to keep. Would I be allowed to sue my association for this type of conduct? (C.O. via e-mail)

Answer:No. One of the most important rights that unit owners have concerning the operation of the condominium association is the right to inspect and copy the records of the association, with very limited exceptions. Section 718.111(12), of the Florida Condominium Act, outlines the official records the association must keep. The statute outlines a number of specific items that must be maintained by the association, including copies of the governing documents, account histories for each unit owner, and the insurance policies for the association, for example. In addition, the statute also includes a “catch all” provision, which states “all other written records of the association not specifically included in the foregoing which relate to the operation of the association.” Therefore, your letter would be a written record of the association.

Additionally, Section 718.111(12)(c), states that the official records of the association are open to the inspection and copying by any member of the association or their authorized representative. Certain records are not open to inspection. These records include attorney client privileged information, information obtained in connection with the approval of a sale or lease, certain personnel records of the association’s employees or management company employees, medical records, protected personal information, which includes social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, email addresses, telephone numbers and other personal information of unit owners, and electronic security measures such as passwords, software or operating systems used by the association.

Your letter to the association complaining of your neighbor’s conduct is not the type of record that is protected by the statute and therefore would be open to the inspection and copying by any unit owner. However, if your letter contained personal identifying information protected by the statute, such as an email address, the association should redact that information, although there is no lability to the association in the event of an inadvertent disclosure.

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