Association Use of Email Addresses

Depending on the size of the community, sending notices on behalf of an association client can be an expensive proposition.  The use of e-mail can simplify that task and make it more affordable.  It allows you to deliver notices with much greater efficiency and speed.  However, if your association intends to use email,  there are a few questions you may be asking:

(1)  When can an association use a homeowner’s email address for official association notices?

Under Florida Statute 720.303(4) & 718.111 12(a), the use of a homeowner’s email address to deliver official notice of an Association meeting may ONLY be used if the homeowner CONSENTS to receiving notice via electronic transmission.  This also includes official notice of an Association meeting. Casually obtaining a member’s email address does not constitute receiving consent.  An example of this happens when the homeowner contacts a manager on another type of issue, this does not suffice as consent.  In order for that email address to be used for the purpose of official business, consent needs to be explicit. After explicit consent is obtained, you should then retain it as an official record of the association.

(2)  Can a homeowner’s email address be discovered by one making an official records request?

Simply having a homeowner’s email address does not necessarily make it a part of the official records.  In fact, it must be recognized that not ALL information in the hands of the association is an official record.   If the homeowner consents to use of their email address for Association official communications then the homeowner’s email address does become part of the Association’s official records and subject to disclosure to a party who makes an official records request.  If consent to use their email address is revoked by a homeowner, then that homeowner’s email address must be removed from the association official records.

(3)  Can we use a homeowner’s email address for informational purposes that are not official notifications?

So does this mean you cannot use a homeowner’s email address for informational purposes? Florida Statutes do not specifically address this situation, and one can conclude that such a use would not be prohibited.   As an example, if a hurricane is threatening the area in which the community is located, then the management company may send an email to inform homeowners about local resources and tips for preparing their home.   Email blasts are becoming more popular to save on postage fees.  An informational email unrelated to the operation of the association is not the type of notice that is being addressed throughout Sections  720.303 & 718.111.  As such, it is reasonable to conclude that use of the email address would be not be prohibited, even where consent of the homeowner was not obtained.

David M. Felice, Esq.