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.
Hopefully you live in an HOA community that is run well and is committed to transparency. This makes knowing which party to turn to much easier. However, as you likely know, no community is managed perfectly and it's incumbent upon each resident to proactively understand the correct ways to remedy an issue or get a question answered.
At Comsource our goal is to help HOAs, condo associations and their residents work better together. A big part of that effort is facilitating strong communication. In that spirit, we offer homeowners and condo residents the following tips for knowing when to contact your HOA board and when to reach out to its community management partner.
General Responsibilities for the Board and Management Company
The HOA board makes decisions according to their fiduciary responsibilities and the community management firm helps the board execute, manage and track community activities. Broadly speaking, that’s how the relationship should operate.
Keystone, a community management company located in Southern California, frames the relationship this way: “Your Board of Directors establishes rules and regulations that they think will most successfully maintain and/or increase your community’s value. They utilize the management company’s expertise to help guide that process, provide input into precedent and other legal compliance considerations, and add suggestions that the board might overlook. Though the management company offers input based on experience guiding communities toward success, ultimately the responsibility for all decisions rests on the shoulders of the board of directors.”
Now, within that broad definition there are nuances generated by specific contracts, management philosophies and personalities; this can often obscure roles and responsibilities for a home or condo resident.
The board has to act in accordance with the community’s governing documents and the law, while the HOA management firm typically provides advice and guides the board while managing the following day-to-day operations:
- Administrative services (collecting dues, levying fines)
- Accounts receivable (general accounting)
- Community management (physical site management, landscaping, snow removal)
- Accounting and finance (financial statement, record keeping, monthly billing)
Let’s take a quick look at four common scenarios that could arise in your community and who you should reach out to initially. All scenarios below assume a standard contract between your HOA and condo board and a reputable community management company. As we noted earlier, every contract can be different, so educating yourself on the specifics of any HOA and community management firm contract is critical to knowing where to turn for the most efficient source of help.
Common Areas Are Not Being Maintained
If you notice the pool area is falling apart or the club house roof is deteriorating, and no one seems to be acting to remedy the situation, contact your community manager directly. This responsibility falls within the purview of the community management firm. Maintenance of common areas is a standard service area within an HOA management contract.
If you see or hear about HOA board members meeting in a manner outside of the governing rules of your community, it needs to be addressed. A homeowner or homeowners should take this directly to the board itself, as this falls within the rules and regulations of the community.
You Get Blocked In By Snow
If a big snowstorm hits your community, and your sidewalks, driveway and street are not cleared in a timely manner, this again falls within the realm of community area maintenance and you should contact either your community manager or the community management designated contact for such issues. If you contact the board, they will likely refer you to the community manager anyway, so save the step.
Double Checking Your Assessments Are Paid In Full
If you’re unsure if you paid your HOA assessment properly and want to double check, go first to your community management website and online portal. Most well-run, reputable community management firms use an online platform to process and track payments and fees for your association. Go online, login in and you should be able to see your payment history. If the community management company doesn’t offer this service, give them a call. And then go talk to a trusted board member about finding a new management company that does.
These are just a few examples of a wide range of scenarios that could occur in your community. The most important step you can take is to educate yourself on your community’s governance documents and its relationship with its community management company.
Be active, helpful and curious. Participate in board activities. Get to know your property manager and other management company staff. If you do that, you’ll always know the right place to turn to get an issue resolved quickly.
At Comsource, we can help. We’ve worked with scores of Maryland HOA and condo association communities to improve the lives of their residents by leveraging our experience and technological expertise. Reach out to us today. Let’s talk.