Ask the HOA Expert: New Management Company VS Becoming Self-managed

Written by Richard Thompson Posted On Thursday, 28 April 2022 00:00

Question: Our property manager does not do his job. He frantically sends violation letters and discusses the repair progress with the maintenance committee just prior to the monthly meeting. He claims to visit the property two or three times per week, however, no one seems to see him there. We are entertaining ideas of a new management company or of becoming self-managed. What do you think?

Answer: While you may have better options for management, I do not recommend self management unless your HOA has minimal financial, administrative and maintenance responsibilities. HOA managers typically are on call for emergencies, something volunteer owners are rarely willing to do. Volunteers like to go on vacations and should not be subjected after hours calls from their neighbors.

Self managed HOAs frequently have problems keeping accurate and timely books. Finances are the foundation of a homeowner association and should be treated seriously. If you decide to self manage, do yourself a favor and at least hire an independent bookkeeper to keep finances rolling smoothly.

Question: We record our board meetings and make them available to members. Some say we shouldn't. Any advice?

Answer: In general, recording isn't recommended because the speakers can't always be heard clearly or identified. Also, body language can totally change the context of what is being said. While many comments wouldn't or shouldn't find their way into written minutes, an audio recording picks up the good, the bad and the ugly and can cause unnecessary problems. Instead of taping, take accurate written minutes that reflect the business discussed and make them available to owners. All board meetings should be open to the owners that want to attend. This means holding the meetings in visitor friendly places to encourage attendance.

Question: What should a homeowner association expect to pay for a professional management company and what services does that include? Answer: The cost of professional management is based on the size and complexity of the property and the scope of work. For example, a 100 unit condominium with pool and clubhouse is more labor intensive than one without them. 

Question: Our property manager told the board at the last meeting that no more than two of us can meet at a given time. If three of us get together, we have to post the meeting because we have a quorum...Your input?

Answer: If the board is gathering to discuss and make decisions on HOA business, it qualifies as a board meeting and should be noticed to the homeowners. Emergency meetings sometimes need to be called. (Lack of planning does qualify as an emergency.) Hold meetings in a visitor friendly location to encourage participation. Open meetings and frequent communication promote trust.


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