Question: I read your recent article regarding the new condominium law about publishing a members’ directory (telephone book). Can we publish e-mail addresses as well? What telephone numbers can we publish? E.W. (via e-mail)
Answer: Unfortunately, the new statute (which applies to condominiums, cooperatives and homeowners’ associations) is rather vague and somewhat confusing. It was added very late in the process as a “floor amendment”, and was probably not vetted as it should have been.
For several years, the law has provided that e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, addresses of a member other than as provided to fulfill the association’s notice requirements, and other “personal identifying information” was not accessible to other members. However, the statute has also stated that a member could consent in writing to the disclosure of protected information.
Thus, as the law existed before the recent (2013) change, it was fairly easy to deal with. Whatever any member consented to be disclosed in writing could be included in an association directory or otherwise disclosed by the association, including non-record addresses (the “up north” address even if that is not the official address of the unit) e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers, and the like.
I am told that the impetus of the new law was that some associations wanted to have a telephone book and did not want to have to get permission from members to publish it. Thus, the statute now says that the association can print the “telephone number of each parcel owner”, although owners can request (in writing) to be excluded. Whether by intent or not, the Legislature also deleted the provision from the old law that allows an owner to consent to the disclosure of other protected information.
Under the new law, “telephone numbers” (in the plural) are “protected information”. The statute allows the association to publish a membership directory containing the “telephone number of each parcel owner”. The term used in this part of the statute is telephone “number” (singular), not “numbers” (plural).
Some argue that the telephone number for the phone in the unit is all you can publish. Others argue that the association can publish whatever “telephone number” (recognizing that an association may have several telephone numbers for any one owner) the association has “on record”. Others argue that the singular reference to “telephone number” does not mean what it says and that any telephone numbers it has “on record” can be included in the directory. This needs to be fixed.
As to e-mail addresses, the law now simply states that e-mail addresses “are not accessible to owners.”