The relationship between a homeowners’ association (HOA) and its property management company can make or break a residential community. When the two work together effectively, residents enjoy their homes without inconvenience and the value of the property is maintained and even improved. Here are some key factors in making that partnership succeed.
Clearly Defined Roles
At a high level, roles are defined and cannot change. The board is responsible for setting rules and regulations. It must approve all vendor contracts and financial decisions. It may not delegate these obligations. The property management company carries out board policy and is accountable to the board for doing so.
When it comes to specific tasks, however, there is leeway in who does what. For example, who will run membership meetings? Who will conduct background checks on potential residents? When a vendor such as a landscaper is engaged, what will the roles be? Will the board be involved in the entire process, or will the management company do the work and bring recommendations to the board for approval?
If these responsibilities are spelled out in detail, it will save time and facilitate the working relationship.
Seamless Interface for Owners and Residents
Home owners association stakeholders include resident owners, landlords and renters. When they have issues and concerns, they should not have to decide whether to take them to the board or the property manager. There should be a defined process and a clearly understood point of contact for anything that comes up.
Channels of communication need to be defined and used. There needs to be regular reporting from the management company to the board, whether written, oral or both. Both parties should be open and honest about their expectations and whether they are being met.
Management Company Advice
The HOA board is comprised of part-time volunteers and does not have the needed expertise in every facet of condominium, townhouse or other association management. They may not have a deep understanding of accounting. They do not have the management company’s knowledge of vendors and of state and local regulations. They might not know how best to word a proposed new rule. They will not have the management company’s experience of what has worked and not worked in other associations.
The board must be open about areas where they need help. The property management company needs not only to respond but also to be proactive in pointing out where they can contribute.
Both parties have hard jobs and are under pressure. Each should presume positive intent. Difficult and emotional issues should be addressed calmly and without personal attacks.
North Point Management specializes in HOAs and other community associations in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine. Contact us to learn more about how we can work effectively with your HOA board.