July 23, 2019

Trisha Harris: Preparing for Owner Inspection of HOA Emails

In today’s electronic age, many boards have flurries of e-mails flying back and forth about a wide range of association-related topics. As we have discussed in previous blogs and articles, when HB 12-1237 goes in to effect on January 1, 2013, owners will be entitled to inspect board e-mails that relate directly to decisions made by the board outside of a meeting, whether by e-mail, written resolution, phone, etc. This raises the practical questions of how boards should determine which e-mails to save, how to retain such e-mails, and other related issues. The following are some practical pointers to help your board to comply:

  • If your association has a manager, one option is to copy your manager on all such e-mails and have your manager save them electronically or print them out and keep them in a physical file. This may not be something that is currently addressed in your management company contract. In such case, the board and the management company may need to re-negotiate the contract to include this service. If your manager does undertake this role, your records retention policy will need to be revised to reflect that responsibility for the manager. If your association does not have a manager, this retention role can be filled by your secretary.
  • Set up a Google or Yahoo group for the board to use to communicate. This will keep e-mails centralized in one place, allow for storage of the e-mails, and allow for group members to change as board members change.
  • Have board members set up a separate e-mail account for board business, which is separate from their regular personal or business e-mail address. The e-mail addresses could be tied to certain positions, such as president@abchoa.com, which could then be transferred to new board members as board members change. By doing so, owners will always have a consistent and stable list of e-mail addresses, which will reduce confusion and lost communication when there are changes on the board. Having designated board member e-mail addresses separate from individual board member’s personal or business e-mail addresses will also help to protect attorney-client privileged communications to the board.  Often, a board member will share a personal e-mail address with his or her spouse. E-mails that go to that address may be viewed by non-board members, so having a designated board-business e-mail address can help to keep such communications confidential with just board members. Also, if a board member is served with a subpoena for his or her e-mails, not only will the e-mails related to board business be subject to it, but all other e-mails sent and received from that account could also be discoverable.
  • Keep decisions outside of a meeting to a minimum. As much business as possible should be done in open meetings. Limit decisions outside of a meeting to urgent situations where the board cannot call a special meeting nor wait until the next board meeting to discuss the issue.
Trisha K. Harris is a partner at HindmanSanchez and is inspired by the impact that community association law has on so many people. Her philosophy in representing associations is to help them by giving them tools to make good decisions and promoting the positive aspects of association living by blending the social and business aspects together to produce strong communities. She contributes to her firm’s blog, where this post originally appeared on July 26, 2012.

Governor Hickenlooper Signs More Bills, Including Industrial Hemp Bill

In the past few weeks, Governor Hickenlooper has continued his efforts to sign bills into law. So far this legislative session, he has signed 278 bills into law.

Governor Hickenlooper traveled to Ft. Collins on May 22, 2012, to sign the following bill:

  • HB 12-1326Concerning Assistance to the Elderly, and, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation.
    Sponsored by Rep. Cindy Acree and Sen. John Kefalas. The bill encourages the State Board of Health Services to raise the monhly Old Age Pension amount and also allows seniors with partial Medicaid eligibility to receive dental assistance and transfers funds to the Senior Services Account.

Governor Hickenlooper signed 29 bills into law on Thursday, May 24, 2012, including one that encourages Colorado’s use of clean energy alternatives. Five of the bills signed that day are summarized here.

  • HB 12-1315Concerning the Reorganization of the Governor’s Energy Office and, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation.
    Sponsored by Rep. Jon Becker and Sen. Pat Steadman. The bill reorganizes and renames the Governor’s Energy Office and changes its statutory mission. The bill intends to promote clean and renewable energy.
  • HB 12-1346Concerning Sex Offender Registration.
    Sponsored by Rep. Bob Gardner and Sen. Steve King. The bill establishes requirements for sex offender registration for individuals who do not have a fixed residence.
  • HB 12-1328Concerning Exclusion from the “Uniform Commercial Credit Code” of Certain Charges by Persons Regularly Engaged in Making Contracts for Purchase of Tangible Personal Property in the Course of Business if Those Charges Do Not Exceed Amounts Permitted by Law.
    Sponsored by Rep. Kevin Priola and Sen. Angela Giron. The bill clarifies the appication of the pawnbroker exclusion to the UCCC.
  • HB 12-1307Concerning the Authority of a Nonlawyer Trustee of a Certain Size Trust to Represent the Trust Before the Board of Assessment Appeals.
    Sponsored by Rep. Jim Kerr and Sen. Ellen Roberts. The bill authorizes a nonlawyer trustee to represent its trust before the Board of Assessment Appeals if the total size if the trust is less than $3 million.
  • SB 12-009Concerning the Consolidation of Cash Funds Administered by the Division of Water Resources, and, In Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations.
    Sponsored by Sen. Mary Hodge and Rep. Keith Swerdfeger. The bill creates the water resources cash fund, as recommended by the Water Resources Review Committee, and consolidates it into six branches.

On Tuesday, May 29, 2012, Governor Hickenlooper signed 14 bills into law. Four of them are summarized here.

  • SB 12-078Concerning Protections for At-Risk Adults.
    Sponsored by Sen. Evie Hudak and Rep. Sue Schafer. The bill clarifies definitions and modifies requirements regarding the mistreatment, self-neglect, and exploitation of at-risk adults.
  • HB 12-1237Concerning the Records Kept by Unit Owners’ Association of a Common Interest Community.
    Sponsored by Rep. Angela Williams and Sen. Ted Harvey. The bill identifies a list of the records required to be kept by a unit owners’ association for a common interest community.
  • HB 12-1263Concerning Reducing Barriers to Employment by State of Colorado Agencies for People with Criminal Records.
    Sponsored by Rep. Claire Levy and Sen. Pat Steadman. The bill prohibits state agencies from advertising in employment solicitations that people with criminal backgrounds may not apply, and prevents agencies from doing background checks unless a conditional offer has been given.
  • HB 12-1293Concerning Modifications to Procedures that Govern Recall Elections.
    Sponsored by Rep. Nancy Todd and Sen. Keith King. The bill makes various changes and clarifications to the rules governing recall elections.

On Wednesday, May 30, 2012, Governor Hickenlooper signed one bill into law.

  • HB 12-1278Concerning the Authorization of a Study of the South Platte River Alluvial Aquifer, and, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation.
    Sponsored by Rep. Randy Fischer and Sen. Scott Renfroe. The bill requires the CWCB in connection with the State Engineer and the Colorado Water Institute to conduct a study to compile historical hydrological data for the South Platte River Basin.

Finally, on Monday, June 4, 2012, Governor Hickenlooper signed 17 bills into law. Four of them are summarized here.

  • HB 12-1261Concerning Effective Educators in Low-Performing, High-Needs Schools, and, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation.
    Sponsored by Rep. Judy Solano and Sen. Bob Bacon. The bill requires that teachers and principals holding certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards be awarded a stipend.
  • SB 12-068Concerning Prohibiting the Inclusion of Industrially Produced Trans Fats in Foods Made Available to Students by Public Schools, and, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation.
    Sponsored by Sen. Lucia Guzman and Rep. Tom Massey. The bill prohibits public schools from making available foods or beverages that contain industrially produced trans fats. The bill requires districts with 1,000 or more students to comply and encourages districts with fewer than 1,000 students to comply.
  • HB 12-1099Concerning the Establishment of an Industrial Hemp Remediation Pilot Program to Study Phytoremediation Through the Growth of Hemp on Contaminated Soil, and, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation.
    Sponsored by Rep. Wes McKinley and Sens. Lois Tochtrop and Suzanne Williams. The bill allows the Industrial Hemp Remediation Pilot Program to study how contaminated soils and water can be purified by the growth of industrial hemp.
  • HB 12-1314Concerning an Exception to the Requirement to File an Oil and Gas Severance Tax Return for a Person Who Has Less Than a Certain Amount Withheld, and, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation.
    Sponsored by Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg and Sen. Cheri Jahn. The bill creates an exception from filing oil and gas severance tax returns and prohibits the DOR from sending non-filing taxpayers notices of liability unless certain requirements are met.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2012 legislative decisions, please click here.

HB 12-1237: Clarifies Which Records Need to be Kept by Owners’ Associations in Common Interest Communities

On February 6, 2012, Rep. Angela Williams and Sen. Ted Harvey introduced HB 12-1237 – Concerning the Records Kept By the Unit Owners’ Association of a Common Interest Community. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill adopts, with some revisions, suggested language from the commission on uniform state laws concerning the records required to be kept by a unit owners’ association concerning the finances, board meeting minutes, and other affairs of a common interest community under the “Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act.” The bill passed out of the House on March 1 and has been assigned to the Local Government Committee in the Senate.

Summaries of other featured bills can be found here.