By Eric Glazer, Esq.

Published February 21, 2022


Florida Statute states:
120.565 Declaratory statement by agencies.—
(1) Any substantially affected person may seek a declaratory statement regarding an agency’s opinion as to the applicability of a statutory provision, or of any rule or order of the agency, as it applies to the petitioner’s particular set of circumstances.


A man by the name of James Hanseman recently sought a declaratory statement from The Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes regarding whether e-mail communications between and among board members are “official records” within the meaning of Florida Statute 718.111(12), where such records relate to the Association’s operations but are sent to and/or from personal computers and devices rather than Association owned computers and devices.

Those of who have taken my Board Certification Class know that the answer to this question is that as long as the e-mails were on the private e-mail accounts of the Board members, they are not “official records” and therefore the unit owners cannot obtain copies of them. Well….that was all changed in one full swoop.

In this declaratory statement, Chevonne Christian the Division Director opined that:

The .. official records of the association" include .. all other written records of the association not specifically included in the foregoing which are related to the operation of the association."§ 718.111 (12)(a) l8., Fla. Stat. Nothing in this provision exempts such records when created or transmitted with a board member-owned device rather than an Association owned device.

The plain meaning of the statute is always the starting point in statutory interpretation."

GTC, Inc. v. Edgar, 961 So. 2d 781, 785 (Fla. 2007). Dictionaries can be used to determine the meaning of words. Metro. Dade County v. Milton, 707 So. 2d 913, 915 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998).

Emails constitute a form of writing. Writing, Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).

Consequently, emails are "written records," and their existence as such does not depend on the ownership of the device through which the emails are transmitted.

Accordingly, emails that otherwise constitute "official records" are not excluded from thestatutory definition of "official records" merely because they are created or transmitted with board members' personal devices.


Wow! If e-mails constitute a form of writing, no doubt text messages also constitute a form of writing. So how is this going to work? Let’s say a unit owner makes a records request for e-mails between board members during the month of February, 2022. Do all of the Board members now have an obligation to look through their e-mails and texts for the past month, print them out and hand them in to the association? Suppose each director simply says that we don’t communicate by e-mail or texts, even though they do? What remedy does the unit owner have?


While the decision is debatable as to whether or not these e-mails are “official records” it is undeniable, that it is simply unenforceable. It will be interesting to see the first arbitration case that relies on this declaratory statement. It will be even more interesting if that arbitration case gets appealed and we ultimately get a decision of the courts. Will a director ever be required to physically turn over their phone or computer by a court? Who knows? But I think we will either have a legislative fix or a court opinion within a year. In the interim, keep in mind that before you hit the SEND button on an e-mail, think about the fact that said e-mail may one day be seen by everyone in the condominium, or even a judge or jury.

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About HOA & Condo Blog

Eric Glazer

Eric Glazer graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 1992 after receiving a B.A. from NYU. He has practiced community association law for three decades and is the owner of Glazer and Sachs, P.A. a five attorney law firm with offices in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

Eric is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Condominium and Planned Development Law.


Since 2009, Eric has been the host of Condo Craze and HOAs, a weekly one hour radio show that airs at 11:00 a.m. each Sunday on 850 WFTL.




Eric is the first attorney in the State of Florida that designed a course that certifies condominium and HOA residents as eligible to serve on a Board of Directors and has now certified more than 20,000 Floridians all across the state. He is certified as a Circuit Court Mediator by The Florida Supreme Court and has mediated dozens of disputes between associations and unit owners. Eric also devotes significant time to advancing legislation in the best interest of Florida community association members.

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