Are homeowners allowed to read or copy committee minutes? Our manager says no because they are not “standing committees” like the architectural committee. I say all records, receipts, minutes can be read and copied except for executive minutes. The Davis-Stirling Act is a little confusing on this subject. — P.W., Beaumont
Committee meeting minutes are treated differently than minutes of board meetings. If the committee has decision-making authority, then Civil Code Section 5210(a)(2) requires that minutes of such a committee be kept permanently and provided to members upon request.
However, most committees do not make final decisions but instead make recommendations to the board, and so would not have “public” minutes. Committees normally make reports, not minutes.
The one exception would be the architectural committee, which normally has decision-making authority over architectural applications.
Normal committees also are not required to comply with the Open Meeting Act, unless the committee has a quorum of the board participating, and then under Civil Code 4090, it is also considered a “board meeting” triggering compliance with the Open Meeting Act.
I recently attempted to obtain a copy of our HOA rules from our association’s website. They were dated 2016. The next day our manager sent me a copy of updated rules as of 2018. Isn’t it illegal to hide governing documents from the membership, especially rules that were implemented two years prior to a request? — G.C., San Diego
Under Civil Code Section 5200(a)(11), governing documents must be made available to any requesting member. Civil Code Section 4530(a) requires the association to provide those documents within 10 calendar days of a member’s written request. An increasing number of HOAs now post their governing documents on their websites, but it is important to make sure the posted documents are current.
If the rules are changed but the new rules are not posted on the website, some owners could argue the rules were not published and so they have no actual notification of the rules and so are not bound by the rules.
In recent years, the management company mailed out the annual budget statement and annual policy report in the form of a summary, but the summaries were incomplete. This year’s summary coversheet stated a complete summary is available upon request at no charge via email, and a hard copy will be at a charge. How can we receive the full reports and what happens if they don’t comply? — M.M., Ontario
The Annual Budget Report and Annual Policy Statement are collections of important disclosure documents required by Civil Code Sections 5300 and 5310 to be prepared and sent annually to the members.
If the HOA sends out a summary, it must also advise members of their right to receive a free full copy (not, as your HOA said, a “full summary”) of the report. The failure to timely distribute the Annual Budget Report (30-90 days before the fiscal year ends) means the HOA board cannot increase assessments during that year without a membership vote.
There appears to be no direct penalty for failing to issue the Annual Policy Statement.
Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Partner of Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to Kelly@rodllp.com. Past columns at www.HOAHomefront.com. All rights reserved®.