Being a member of the Board of Directors at your Homeowners Association can be a thankless job. With all of the issues the Board has to deal with, responding to document requests from homeowners should be an easy one. Still, one of the major complaints we hear from Boards is the overwhelming amount of paper, documents, and other files that Associations retain over the years. While many Associations have been able to convert their files to electronic format, many others still maintain paper files.

Being a member of the Board of Directors at your Homeowners Association can be a thankless job. With all of the issues the Board has to deal with, responding to document requests from homeowners should be an easy one. Still, one of the major complaints we hear from Boards is the overwhelming amount of paper, documents, and other files that Associations retain over the years. While many Associations have been able to convert their files to electronic format, many others still maintain paper files.

However, keeping paper files can result in Board members storing rooms full of file boxes, sometimes even in their own unit, with members transferring them from Board to Board or Management Company to Management Company as the years go by. In addition to creating a nuisance for the Board members, it can also create confusion and difficulties when documents are not properly organized. What started as a simple document request from a homeowner can turn into a much more complicated hunt and, in some cases, documents that should be made available under the applicable rules cannot be found.

Even if your Association has already moved its documents to electronic format, it still may not have a clear policy regarding the records it maintains. Minnesota law, including the Nonprofit Corporation Act, Minn. Stat. § 317A, and the Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act ("MCIOA"), Minn. Stat. § 515B, outlines the documents and information that Associations must preserve. Associations have a duty under their governing documents and these statues to maintain and allow for review of certain records and documents that it keeps, and homeowners can benefit from a straightforward and transparent policy in this area.

In response to this problem, Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC has developed a Records Retention and Request Policy ("RRP") for Homeowners Associations. The RRP is a resolution and rule specifically drafted for each Association that clearly outlines what it needs to do in order to comply with the law. The RRP details what documents must be kept and for how long, and also provides the process for homeowners to obtain copies of those records when needed.

Having this Policy in place will allow an Association to discard any documents it is no longer required to keep, and to have a clear understanding of its obligations as they relate to document requests. Additionally, many Associations use the RRP as a catalyst for moving their files to an electronic format, which may eventually resolve physical file storage issues entirely. An RRP can help your Association to make clear its rights and responsibilities as they relate to records retention and access and is a vital tool for ensuring that your Association conducts itself as required by law.

Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC is experienced in handling all varieties of issues that arise within Homeowners Associations. If you or your Association have questions about enacting a Records Retention and Request Policy, or any other Homeowners Association issues, call us today for a free consultation.

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