QUESTION: We have been without a membership directory for our condo community for several years. It's really sad because newer people don't hear about the smaller social events we have. We were told we had to have written permission from everyone to publish the directory again. That sounds like a lot of work. Is that correct?
ANSWER: The statutes were changed a couple of years ago because of concerns about owners' privacy. And, yes, it had been necessary to get written permission to publish a printed or even online directory that shared telephone numbers and email addresses.
The statutes were amended again during the last legislative session. As of July 1, 2013, association are permitted to print and distribute a directory containing the name, address and telephone number of each owner to all other owners without getting written consent. Members may opt out of having their telephone number listed by requesting that in writing to the association. In other words, the burden has been moved from the association who had to seek permission to the unit owners who can request that their numbers not be listed.
All other information including email addresses, northern addresses and fax numbers are still protected and unit owners must give written permission to include them in a directory.
This also applies to online directories. Some associations have created their own web sites and post a PDF of the membership directory. Associations who use a web site service that only serves associations have built in options for hiding or revealing sensitive information like email addresses, telephone numbers and northern addresses.
The legislature is becoming more aware of the newer technologies that impact the sharing of information. For example, it is now permissible for a member to make his or her own copies of association records using a portable device such as a Smartphone, portable scanner, tablet or anything else they want to use. Previously, owners who wanted to copy records had to indicate what they wanted to copy and had to pay a reasonable fee for the copies. The association cannot charge for the member's use of his own portable device. As with the information that may be included without permission in a membership directory, there are still restrictions about what a member may see in an association's records, such as portions of personnel files.
If you would like a detailed explanation of these amendments, contact an attorney who is well versed in association matters.
Attorney Sylvia Heldreth is a certified specialist in real estate law. Her office is located at 1215 Miramar St., in Cape Coral.
This article is not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and is based upon facts that change from time to time. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting upon any matter involving the law.