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Are E-mails, Instant Messages (IM), & Twitter Transcripts “official” records of the Association?

On March 30, 2009 the Division issued a Final Order in Humphrey v. Carriage Park CAI a case involving among other things a request for records where the owner sought “all correspondence, e-mails to or from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.” In its ruling the Division stated that there was no violation for failing to produce e-mails which never became the official records of the Association.  The Division explained:

  • The property of an individual director does not become the property of the Association because of his office on the Board.
  • Even if directors communicate among themselves by e-mail strings or chains, about the operation of the Association, the status of the electronic communication on their personal computer would not change.
  • An e-mail to an individual or all directors as a group, addressed to their personal computers, is not written communication to the Association because there is no obligation for a director to turn on a personal computer with any regularity, or to open and read e-mails before deleting them.

The Division in a footnote to its opinion stated a different decision could be reached “if the Association owns a computer on which management conducts business including e-mails…; or if e-mails are printed up and passed around for discussion at a board meeting.” Given the ever changing trends in technology and the manner in which Associations conduct business, a Board needs to be wary that the status of e-mails as official records despite the Humphrey decision is still in flux. In other words, tomorrow, these very same e-mails which today are not official records could be. Also while a link has never been made equating IM or Twitter transcripts to e-mails this too could change as these forms of e-communication become more and more popular amongst Board members. For more information on the role of e-communications and Association look at my May 12, 2009 post or the recent article by the Sun-Sentinel titled Boards a-Twitter about laws.

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3 Comments
  • Avatar
    Jack Ward
    June 13, 2009

    I have been unable to find the details on the procedure to be followed when Condominium Association official records over seven years old are removed. Is there some sort of certificate that is executed by the person who performs this removal?

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    Mike
    July 26, 2009

    We have a HOA who is constantly issues violation letters, regarding sod replacement, pressure washing, tree trimming, weed treatment, etc. However, they do not maintain the common areas, which they are responsible for, to the same standard that they expect from other homeowners, and even saying it through email communication. They have been asked to fix the common area (via email), and in their wisdom they refused to do so (via email). Number of home owners are fed up with this “bully attitude”, and they plan to ignore their letter, and wait for arbitration. Do we have a case here, and are we standing on a solid ground?

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    Wallace
    April 21, 2012

    I received a letter from my community associations’s attorney stating the board and management will no longer accept my email because I abused my email rights because of too many emails sent. Nothing in our documents address emails period. They allow others to email but now not me. The attorney said all my comments/complaints now have to be written and mailed. I am disabled also. I do not believe they can enforce this since no rules or documents give any quantitative limits concerning emails or address emails period.
    Can they do this to me???
    RESPONSE: Please consult with counsel or a fair housing agency with respect to disability status.