For the past few years, the condominium board and management has denied me the right under our bylaws to audit and inspect the books of the condominium. What action, if any, can I take?
—Concerned in Chelsea
“Both New York law and usually, a condominium’s bylaws grant unit owners the right to inspect a condominium’s books and records,” explains attorney David Berkey of the Manhattan-based law firm of Gallet Dreyer & Berkey LLP.
“The statutory right is found in Real Property Law § 339-w, which states: “The manager or board of managers, as the case may be, shall keep detailed, accurate records, in chronological order, of the receipts and expenditures arising from the operation of the property. Such records and the vouchers authorizing the payments shall be available for examination by the unit owners at convenient hours of weekdays. A written report summarizing such receipts and expenditures shall be provided by the board of managers to all unit owners at least once annually.” The bylaws may grant greater rights, such as the right to review the condominium’s insurance policies, but the specific language of the by-laws will govern any additional documents that are subject to unit owner review.
“The unit owner is entitled to make notes concerning the documents that are reviewed, but the statute does not require that copies of documents be provided to the unit owner. Some managing agents and boards will permit the unit owner to make copies of relevant documents, upon request, provided the unit owner pays the copying expense.