As a real estate developer or key member of a real estate development firm, you understand there’s a fine line between the responsibilities of your homeowners association board and a community management company. One might say the differences are nuanced — the respective roles are complementary and have some overlap.

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HOA and condo association communities like yours can be complex just like your neighbors and HOA board members. The relationship between the HOA board and an external community management company--and identifying which party is responsible for certain aspects of your neighborhood--can be tricky as well.

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If you’re a homeowner or condominium resident living in an association-run community, you have a voice. HOAs and condo associations — and there are a lot out there — want to help you feel heard, but are unsure of how to go about it.

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As an HOA or condo association board, it’s always your primary responsibility to put the community’s well-being first. However, your association and your board members need to be protected as well. Residential communities are complex entities subject to the unpredictability of nature, people, the economy, and a host of other risk factors.

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As an HOA or condo association board, it’s always your primary responsibility to put the community’s well-being first. Whether you’re protecting finances, keeping up with maintenance, or managing public relations, the board’s fiduciary responsibility to the entire community must always be a first-order priority.

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Rapid and constant change defines our age and organizations like HOAs and condo associations must remain plugged in to what’s ahead to remain effective. 2019 will likely be another turbulent year for the housing market with potential interest rate hikes and stock market volatility expected to continue in the near term, all of which will impact the way HOA and condo communities operate.

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Deciding to engage a community management firm to assist with your HOA or condo association operations is a big step. Strong due diligence on the part of your board members, as well as deep understanding of community management contracts, is critical to choosing the right partner and protecting the best interests of your community and its residents. Staying up-to-date and informed about the law, regulations and contract agreement best practices is critical, regardless if this is your board’s first management contract negotiation or if you’ve decided to find a new partner after a decade or more with the same firm.

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If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll have heard this before: Board member education and training is a key to successfully running your community and keeping the peace. With a slew of regulations, laws, and processes that boards have to keep up with, it’s no wonder that a frequent cause of tension or disputes is really caused by confusion or miscommunication. Rarely is it the case that a dispute’s root cause is malice or bad intent.

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Let’s be honest: a very, very tiny minority of HOA and condo boards--or their members--have nefarious intentions. Very often, disputes between the board and the community arise because of poor communication, inconsistent application of processes or simply failing to stay up-to-date on ever-changing legal regulations. While disputes in your community are nothing to scoff at, oversights in the legal arena could have dire consequences for not only your board but also for the long-term viability of your community.

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