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Association Records – What You Need to Know

Two years ago, the law in Wisconsin was clarified relative to what records unit owners were entitled to inspect and copy. That list used to require a comparison of Ch. 703 and Ch. 181 Wis. Stat. Now what is required to be maintained and produced to unit owners is set forth in 703.20 Wis. Stat. Below is a summary of those lists:

703.20(1) Wis. Stat.

Minutes and records of action; condominium documents. An association shall keep all of the following records:

  1. Minutes of meetings of the association and of the board of directors of the association, which the association shall keep for at least 6 years.
  2. Records of actions taken without a meeting by the unit owners on behalf of the association or by the board of directors of the association, which the association shall keep for at least 6 years.
  3. The documents and information described under s. 703.33 (1) to (2) [which deal with sales of units and what a seller is to provide to a purchaser] that are adopted by the association, which the association shall keep as permanent records.

Financial records. Except as provided under par. (c), an association shall maintain appropriate financial records for at least 6 years, including all of the following:

  1. Detailed, accurate records using standard bookkeeping procedures of the receipts and expenditures affecting the common elements, specifying and itemizing the maintenance and repair expenses of the common elements and any other expenses incurred.
  2. Annual budgets described under s. 703.161.
  3. Financial statements.
  4. Bank statements and account statements, including statements for reserve accounts, created within the past 6 years.
  5. Income and expense statements.
  6. Insurance policies issued within the past 6 years.
  7. The most recent audit of the association’s financial records, if any.
  8. Contracts entered into within the past 6 years and any bids for those contracts received within the past 3 years.
  9. Invoices and expense records created within the past 6 years.

Exception; records of initial construction. An association is not required under par. (b) to maintain any financial records related to the declarant’s initial construction of the common elements during the period of declarant control under s. 703.15 (2) (c) if the costs of the initial construction are not assessed against unit owners as common expenses and no contract related to the initial construction is made by or on behalf of the association.

703.20(1g) Inspection and copying of records by unit owners.

A unit owner may inspect and copy, at a reasonable time and location specified by the association:

  1. Any of the records of the association described under sub. (1) created within the past 6 years and any records of the association described under sub. (1) (a) 3. and (b) 7. regardless of when those records were created.
  2. A unit owner may select the date for the inspection and copying by providing the association written notice of the selected date at least 10 business days before the selected date if the selected date is a business day or other day agreed to by the association.

Notwithstanding par. (a), an association is not required to allow a unit owner to inspect or copy any of the following records:

  1. A record protected by the lawyer-client privilege, as described in s. 905.03, or a record that is the work product of the association’s attorney.
  2. Personnel records of the association.
  3. A record of a violation of the declaration, bylaws, or association rules by a particular unit owner, other than the unit owner inspecting or copying the records.
  4. A record of assessments levied against a particular unit owner, other than the unit owner inspecting or copying the records, or a record of the account status of a particular unit owner, other than the unit owner inspecting or copying the records.
  5. A financial record is described under sub. (1) (c).

Notwithstanding par. (a), an association may, before allowing a unit owner to inspect or copy records, redact account numbers from the records.

An association may impose a reasonable charge for copies of any records the association provides to a unit owner under par. (a). The association may charge the unit owner for the costs of labor and materials used to provide the copies but may not charge an amount that exceeds the estimated cost of production or reproduction of the copies or $150, whichever is less.

703.20(1r) Large condominiums; Internet site for records inspection.

“Large association” means an association for a condominium with 100 or more units.

Beginning on April 1, 2023, a large association shall maintain an Internet site that satisfies all of the following criteria:

  1. The site is any of the following:
    • Wholly owned and operated by the large association.
    • Operated by a 3rd-party provider with whom the large association owns, leases, rents, or otherwise obtains the right to operate a site dedicated to the large association’s activities and on which the large association may post notices, records, and documents.
  2. The site is accessible through the Internet and includes a protected electronic location that is inaccessible to the general public and accessible only to unit owners and employees of the large association.

Beginning on April 1, 2023, a large association shall post on its Internet site … a current copy of all of the records that unit owners are entitled to inspect under sub. (1g) (a).

Upon a unit owner’s written request, a large association shall provide the unit owner with a username and password and access to the protected locations of the large association’s Internet site described under par. (b).

Applicability. Sections 181.1601 to 181.1603 [Corporate Records and Inspection Rights] do not apply to an association that is a corporation, as defined in s. 181.0103 (5).

Items not referenced in the statute that should also be kept are:

  1. The official membership list
  2. Which units are owner occupied and which are not
  3. Meeting agendas, notices, and affidavits of mailing
  4. Committee Reports
  5. Vote Certifications (Secretary’s statement of yes vs. no votes for motions)

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