Q&A: Board Won’t Release Monthly Financials

Q. When asked for full copies of monthly financials or ability to at least view them, I am told that this info is confidential and can not be released. My board will only issue a pie chart showing where funds are placed and totals of income and disbursements. Is this a legal response ? I am in a co-op and nothing details this in our bylaws.

— What Are My Rights?

A. “A co-op shareholder’s rights to review the co-op’s financial records are governed by the bylaws and the Business Corporation Law (BCL),” says Aaron Shmulewitz, an attorney with Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman, LLP in Manhattan. “Typically, a shareholder is entitled to only very limited information—normally, only an annual financial statement, and an annual budget, and a tax deduction statement.  That means that, typically, a shareholder is not entitled to review the co-op’s monthly operating statements, or copies of invoices, or anything else beyond the limited items enumerated above.  The logic behind this is apparent—the ability of a co-op board and managing agent to function smoothly would be severely hindered if they had to make detailed financial information and records available to every shareholder who requested it, every time (s)he did, and then to spend time on the inevitable follow-up questions and requests after the initial review.  Having said the foregoing, some recent court decisions have taken a more expansive view—at lest in the context of condominiums—and have held that condo unit owners are entitled to more information than the minimum standard.”

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