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I'm selling my home. As part of the transaction, I'm being asked to get some documents related to my homeowner's association: the bylaws, the rules and regulations, minutes, something called a 22.1.

But when I call the managers of my homeowner's association (the association itself has no functioning website nor anybody working there -- they subcontract it out), they refuse to provide these documents to me unless I purchase them for nearly $300. They claim the documents need to be retrieved from some kind of system which they need to be paid for.

Is this right? As a paid-up member of my association, don't I get access to these documents for free?

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You should have access to these documents when they're published. However, after that - if you didn't keep your own copies, you'll have to pay for retrieval. Some states (AZ, for example) have caps on this, since HOAs are using this as a way to "enrich" themselves from people who sell/buy (many times its the buyer who pays for this, not the seller), but $300 sounds about right. Of course it costs much less, but since you don't have a choice - you'll pay what they ask.

As an owner, you can raise the issue at the next board meeting and ask them to change the fee, but if you already sold by then - then who cares...

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The potential owner has a right to the documents including the financials during the three days they have to review them. The board has to be the supplier of the document to make sure that the most recent set of documents are supplied.

In some states the government has established by law that the document fee is limited to the cost of reproducing the documents plus mailing them. Higher fees are generally allowed if the documents are supplied by an outside contractor, because they need to pay labor.

In some communities the service also includes an inspection of the unit/home to verify that the current owner has not made modifications to the property that would be against the architectural guidelines. This protects the new owner because they know that they won't get a letter from the management company claiming the existing deck is too large or the wrong color.

In my experience the fee is paid by the seller, though the cost of the documents can be built into the cost of the property. The worst situation can occur if the potential buyer cancels the purchase during the three day review period; you will have to pay the fee again to send the official documents to the next potential purchaser. In general you don't request the documents until the contract is signed, this minimizes the number of documents that need to be purchased.

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