Thrasher Buschmann Griffith & Voelkel, P.C. Attorneys at Law
Practical Advice, Personal Attention
Our Practice Areas
Real Estate Services
Homeowner Associations
Business Services
Estate Planning, Probate & Trust Administration
Government Representation Services
Civil & Criminal Defense Services
Litigation Services
Lobbying & Government Relations
Asset Protection Planning
Tax Services
Contact Us
Market Square Center
151 N. Delaware St., Suite 1900
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2505
P: 317.686.4773 | F: 317.686.4777
Directions & Parking
Articles & Newsletters
white- YES NO
Indiana Legislature Imposes New Recordkeeping Requirements on Homeowner’s Associations

by: Jeffrey M. Bellamy, Attorney at Law

Over the last several years, the Indiana General Assembly has given considerable attention to the regulation of Homeowner’s Associations (“HOAs”). The 2013 session was no exception. Effective July 1, 2013, House Bill 1084 created new requirements for HOA recordkeeping and access. HOA’s must now keep certain records and make them available at the request of their Owner – Members. Those records are:

- The HOA’s financial records, including all contracts, invoices, bills, receipts, and bank records, of a homeowners association must be available for inspection by each member of the homeowners association upon written request. A written request for inspection must identify with reasonable particularity the information being requested. A member’s ability to inspect records under this section shall not be unreasonably denied or conditioned upon provision of an appropriate purpose for the request. This “appropriate purpose” basis for HOA records requests is a requirement under the Indiana Non-Profit Corporation act, which was the prior standard for HOA records requests. This is no longer the case under the new Act.

- If there is a dispute between a homeowner and his or her HOA, the officers of the HOA must make all communications concerning the dispute available to the homeowner upon request.

- Irrespective of any dispute, an HOA must make all communications and information concerning a lot available to that lot’s owner upon request.

- Notwithstanding the prior disclosure requirement for an individual lot, an HOA is not required to make: (1) communications between the HOA and its legal counsel; and (2) other communications or attorney work product prepared in anticipation of litigation; available to the owner of a lot or home. This acknowledges the existing ‘attorney-client’ privilege of protecting the privacy of communication between a person and his / her attorney.

- Other communications are also excluded. An HOA is not required to make available to a member for inspection: (1) unexecuted contracts; (2) records regarding contract negotiations; (3) information regarding an individual member’s association account to a person who is not a named party on the account; (4) any other information that is prohibited from release under state or federal law; or (5) any records that were created more than two (2) years before the request. For instance, this may include information pertaining to debt collection records which may be regulated by the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

These new regulation provide a new minimum level of access to an HOA’s records by its members. However, if an HOA’s own documents provide for greater records access to its members, these new regulations would not limit those existing standards or would prevent an HOA from increasing its access to records to its members. The bill also recognized the costs that can arise from keeping and producing these records that previously may not have been required to be available. An HOA may not charge a fee for the first hour required to search for a record in response to a request for records. After the first hour, however, an HOA may charge a search fee for any time that exceeds one (1) hour of up to $35.00 per hour, pro-rated for any partial hours over the first hour, for a total fee not to exceed $200.00.

HOA Board members and their managers should implement new practices to collect and catalogue the required records. For instance, this might include collecting and keeping communications not previously saved in the HOA’s records, such as e-mails between Board Members and / or the HOA’s management concerning a potential covenant enforcement matter, written third-party complaints to the HOA about a lot, or architectural approval request forms or written communications. An HOA may not have previously kept these items. These types of written communications would now need to be kept a minimum of two years. If an HOA does not presently keep a record of those communications, it should develop a method to do so. Board members should also be mindful that email communications between Board members about a lot, regardless if there is a dispute, would need to be catalogued and saved for the required two years. Therefore, copying management into all such communications to capture the records is advisable. Or, for self-management communities, designating a board-member, ideally the Board Secretary, to keep these records would be advisable.

These new standards, however, do not mean that oral communications, such as phone calls or face to face conversations about a lot need to be transcribed and made into a record. Likewise, these new requirements do not necessarily apply to matters not involving a particular lot or the financial records designated; for instance, a written communication between board members concerning where to deposit reserve funds, common property maintenance, or a governmental issue.

JEFFREY M. BELLAMY is a Partner with the Indianapolis law firm of Thrasher Buschmann & Voelkel, P.C., where he counsels clients in the areas of real estate, land use and litigation. He regularly represents homeowner’s association boards and their managers throughout central Indiana. He earned his B.S., M.A., and J.D. degrees from Indiana University. Mr. Bellamy is a member of Indianapolis Bar Association Land Use Law Executive Committee, a 2009 graduate of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Leadership in Law Series and a 2013 Superlawyers “Rising Star” in the area of Real Estate and Litigation. Jeff can be reached by telephone at (317) 686-4773 or e-mail at bellamy@indiana-attorneys.com.

Practical Advice, Personal Attention

© Thrasher Buschmann & Voelkel, P.C. All rights reserved