How much personal information do you have to give to the HOA? Basic household information is understandable, but what if they go too far?
Q: Recently my homeowner’s association distributed a request for additional information. They asked me to provide information about who I am and the people who live with me, including their names, relationships to me, and ages. They want information on our vehicles, such as make, model, color and the license plate number. They’ve also requested emergency contact information and whether that person has a key to the home.
I feel this information is excessive. The city already has that vehicle information. And, I don’t necessarily want them having personal details on us. Your thoughts?
A: It’s quite common for condominium associations to request that level of information about their residents. In particular, as short-term rentals have become ubiquitous, high-rise buildings have become more concerned about who is coming through the property.
How Much Personal Information is Appropriate to Give?
We can certainly understand why management of high-rise buildings would want to know who is an owner or a renter, who has keys to a unit, who is living in the unit and who is parking in the parking area for the building. Furthermore, if there is a medical emergency, fire, flood (a pipe bursting) or some other event where the building management or board needs to contact you or someone close to you in an emergency, that information can be of great value when every second counts.
But what if you don’t live in a high-rise (or even a low-rise, multi-family building). Single-family homeowners association are there to take care of architectural issues, landscaping issues, general maintenance and emergencies. We’re not sure why the homeowners association or management company would need so much information about the residents of a particular single-family home but we can imagine why the emergency contact information would be useful.
Imagine that the property is located in a suburban neighborhood and the homeowner travels quite a bit. The association would find it useful to have emergency contact information in case of a fire, flood or other major events that occur in the development.
And if the larger property contains a health club, golf club, clubhouse and other shared facilities or amenities that homeowners and their family members (but perhaps not their guests or tenants) can use, it’s important for the management company to maintain a list of people that are authorized to use those facilities and live there. When the community is gated or has limited parking, the association would also want to control the flow of cars in and out of the development. These days, security is also an issue, but particularly if some of the residents are high profile.
Finally, let’s get back to the short-term rental issue. Thanks to Airbnb, VRBO, and other websites that specialize in short-term or vacation rentals, many homeowners have begun renting out their homes to generate additional revenue. In some cases, those rentals have been disruptive (the tenants have been noisy), destructive (to the property itself but also common areas) and dangerous (because ultimately you don’t know who is renting from you or how many people will be staying in a single property).
That’s why homeowner associations have begun instituting new rules prohibiting short-term or daily rentals or severely limiting them. As with any new rules, the homeowners association has the right to collect pertinent information and can instruct the management company to request details about the homeowner, tenants, and other people who come to the property (like a cleaning person or company).
What to do if the HOA asks for too Much Personal Information?
If you believe your homeowner’s association has overstepped, then you should review your association’s declaration, operating agreement, bylaws and other documents to determine the powers and duties of the association.
A careful read may not reveal anything that specifically empowers the association to request the information, but you will likely find that the association has the power to make rules on the use of the common facilities and to enforce other rules and regulations for the development. If the rules and regulations are quite broad, the association may have the right to request that level of specific information. In some states, associations are required by law to keep lists of owners along with contact information, so you might also need to know what your state requires.
If you’re dead set against giving your homeowner’s association this information, you may need to talk to an attorney that focuses on common ownership associations to see what options you have.