Crystal Clear The Importance of Being Transparent

A key to success and functionality in any relationship is clear and regular communication. In a residential community, part of achieving functionality is managing the information in the governing documents and records which detail the community’s finances, legal proceedings and correspondence between unit owners, the board, the management company and others.

Who gets to know what, and when they can know it could become a bone of contention pitting residents against each other, but it needn’t. The differences between information that can be shared with members of the community, and data that should not be shared, are clearly marked by the law. This doesn’t mean all members of the community, or even every member of the board, understands what is legal or illegal to share. Unfortunately, misunderstandings in this area can lead to lawsuits, which create legal fees that are paid by all members of the community.

Experts say that keeping residents in the loop, while maintaining appropriate levels of confidentiality, is the smartest and most economical course. Openness helps to prevent misunderstandings.

What’s Hidden?

Just because it is community business doesn’t mean it’s your business. While it is the bailiwick of board members to know what records they can and cannot reveal, all unit owners should know what official records they legally have a right to see.

“There are some legal requirements that allow for transparency,” says Lara Anderson, an attorney and shareholder with the law firm of Fullett Rosenlund Anderson PC in Lake Zurich. “There are requirements with regards to providing access to certain association documents and records upon request. There are a number of documents a unit owner can request to review and make copies of. The documents include things such as obviously your governing documents, which would be your declaration, your bylaws, your, articles of incorporation, rules and regulations, records of receipts and expenditures of the association and minutes of the meetings.”