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(a) To the extent of any conflict or inconsistency, this section prevails over other provisions of law and the dedicatory instruments of a property owners' association subject to this chapter. This section is the exclusive procedure for a property owner to inspect the books and records of the association.
(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c) or (j), a property owners' association shall, on written request as provided by this section, make the books and records of the association open to and reasonably available for examination by an owner or a person designated in a written instrument signed by the owner as the owner's agent, attorney, or certified public accountant. Except as provided by Subsection (c) or (j), an owner is entitled to obtain copies of the books and records from the association.
(c) An attorney's files and records relating to the property owners' association, excluding invoices, are not records of the association and are not subject to inspection by the owner or the owner's authorized representative or to production in a legal proceeding. This subsection does not require production of a document that is covered by the attorney-client privilege.
(d) An owner or the owner's authorized representative described by Subsection (b) must submit a written request by certified mail to the mailing address of the property owners' association or the association's authorized representative, as reflected on the most current management certificate filed under Section 215.013, for access to the books and records of the association. The request must describe, in sufficient detail, the association's books and records requested by the owner or the owner's representative and:
(1) if an inspection is requested, the association shall, on or before the l0th business day after the date the association receives the request, send written notice of dates that the owner may inspect, during normal business hours, the requested books and records to the extent those books and records are in the actual physical possession, custody, and control of the association; or
(2) if copies of identified books and records are requested, the association shall, to the extent those books and records are in the actual physical possession, custody, and control of the association, produce copies of the requested books and records on or before the 10th business day after the date the association receives the request, except as otherwise provided by this section.
(e) If the property owners' association fails to produce the books or records requested under Subsection (d) on or before the l0th business day after the date the association receives the request, the association must provide to the requestor written notice that:
(1) informs the requestor that the association is unable to produce the information and the specific reasons for that inability on or before the 10th business day after the date the association received the request; and
(2) if the association can produce the information, notifies the requestor of the date by which the information will be sent or made available for inspection to the requesting party, which may not be later than the 15th day after the date notice under this subsection is given.
(f) If an inspection is requested or required, the inspection shall take place at a mutually agreed on time during normal business hours of the property owners' association, and the requesting party shall identify the books and records for the association to copy and forward to the requesting party.
(g) A property owners' association may produce books and records requested under this section in hard copy, electronic, or other format reasonably available to the association.
(h) A property owners' association board must adopt a records production and copying policy that prescribes the costs the association will charge for the compilation, production, and reproduction of information requested under this section. The prescribed charges may include all reasonable costs of materials, labor, and overhead. The policy required by this subsection must be recorded as a dedicatory instrument. If the policy is not recorded, the association may not charge an owner for the compilation, production, or reproduction of information requested under this section. If the policy is recorded, the requesting owner or the owner's representative is responsible for all costs related to the compilation, production, and reproduction of the requested information based on the amounts prescribed by the policy. The association may require advance payment of the estimated costs of compilation, production, and reproduction of the requested information. If the total of the estimated costs differs from the total of the actual costs, the association shall submit a final invoice to the owner on or before the 30th business day after the date the requested copies are delivered. If the actual total cost is higher than the estimated total cost, and the owner fails to reimburse the association before the 30th business day after the date the invoice is sent to the owner, the association may add the amount due to the owner's account as an assessment. If the actual total cost is less than the estimated total cost, the association shall issue a refund to the owner not later than the 30th business day after the date the requested copies are delivered.
(i) A property owners' association must estimate costs under this section using amounts prescribed by the policy adopted under Subsection (h).
(j) Information may be released in an aggregate or summary manner that would not identify an individual property owner. Except as provided by Subsection (k) and to the extent the information is provided in the meeting minutes, the property owners' association is not required to release or allow inspection of any books or records that identify:
(1) the dedicatory instrument violation history of an individual owner;
(2) an owner's personal financial information, including records of payment or nonpayment of amounts due the association;
(3) an owner's contact information, other than the owner's address;
(4) an owner's property files or building plans;
(5) books or records described by Subsection (c);
(6) any information to which an owner objects to releasing or has not granted approval for releasing; or
(7) information related to an employee of the association, including personnel files.
(k) The books and records described by Subsection (j) shall be released or made available for inspection if:
(1) the express written approval of the owner whose records are the subject of the request for inspection is provided to the property owners' association; or
(2) a court orders the release of the books and records or orders that the books and records be made available for inspection.
(l) A property owners' association shall adopt and comply with a document retention policy that includes, at a minimum, the following requirements:
(1) certificates of formation, bylaws, restrictive covenants, and all amendments to the certificates of formation, bylaws, and covenants shall be retained permanently;
(2) financial books and records shall be retained for seven years;
(3) account records of current owners shall be retained for five years;
(4) contracts with a term of one year or more shall be retained for four years after the expiration of the contract term;
(5) minutes of meetings of the owners and the board shall be retained for seven years; and
(6) tax returns and audit records shall be retained for seven years.
(m) A member of a property owners' association who is denied access to or copies of the association books or records to which the member is entitled under this section may file a petition with the county court at law in which all or part of the property that is governed by the association is located requesting relief in accordance with this subsection. If the county court at law finds that the member is entitled to access to or copies of the records, the county court at law may grant one or more of the following remedies:
(1) a judgment ordering the association to release or allow access to the books or records;
(2) a judgment against the association for court costs and attorney's fees incurred in connection with seeking a remedy under this section; or
(3) a judgment authorizing the owner or the owner's assignee to deduct the amounts awarded under Subdivision (2) from any future regular or special assessments payable to the association.
(n) If the property owners' association prevails in an action under Subsection (m), the association is entitled to a judgment for court costs and attorney's fees incurred by the association in connection with the action.
(o) On or before the 10th business day before the date a person brings an action against a property owners' association under this section, the person must send written notice to the association of the person's intent to bring the action. The notice must:
(1) be sent certified mail, return receipt requested, or delivered by the United States Postal Service with signature confirmation service, to the mailing address of the association or the association's authorized representative as reflected on the most current management certificate filed under Section 215.013; and
(2) describe with sufficient detail the books and records being requested.
(p) For the purposes of this section, “business day” means a day other than Saturday, Sunday, or a state or federal holiday.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Texas Property Code - PROP § 215.0135. Association Records - last updated April 14, 2021 | https://codes.findlaw.com/tx/property-code/prop-sect-215-0135/
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