RealManage Insight

Setting Realistic Expectations for Your Community Association Management

by Kimberly Sutherland on Dec 29, 2020 8:21:00 AM

As we head into the new year, we are all setting our expectations for what we want and how we will accomplish our goals in 2021. New years resolutions are something most people start off with high expectations but can occasionally fall flat if they aren't realistic goals. Similar to how all community associations are different, the expectations that your board or owners have for the new year can be different. Management companies can provide support but really understanding what your needs are and how can your community partners help meet those needs is important. Before you choose a new management company or even if you only want to evaluate your current company, start first with determining what items are most important to your community. How does the management company handle those tasks?

Take a look at these common expectations and what to ask of them.

Get Everyone on the Same Page

The first thing to do is set a meeting where everyone can get together to ask questions and understand what you expect of management duties. This should include the homeowners as well so they know what the management rules are.

In the age of quarantining and more social distancing, perhaps this means meeting virtually to discuss these matters. It's easier than ever to do this nowadays, but everyone needs to understand what their responsibilities are. If you have some new responsibilities going beyond what property managers know, be sure to get it in writing.

Amending agreements should always be done when everyone is available to discuss them. Once everyone understands their roles, it becomes a new contract everyone should have available to refer to physically or digitally.

Setting the Responsibilities of the Management Team

A lot of opinions are out there about what managers should do while working with your association. Consensus is they should focus on four areas:

  • Guide the board to fulfill legal requirements.
  • Make all financial decisions.
  • Work closely with the board on decisions.
  • Provide suggestions to the board based on experience.

In the case of legal requirements, it usually means the management company assures the board deals with taxes appropriately. And, of course, they have to make sure your association continues to operate legally, including living up to state civil codes and local statutes.

Financial decisions should involve complete transparency with your association to make sure money gets spent in the smartest possible ways.

The partnership angle means helping your board make sound decisions that benefit everyone involved. Because your board might change over time with new members, the management team should have all ability to adapt to those changes in communication.

Listening to suggestions from an experienced management team also needs top priority. They can suggest things your board overlooks based on dealing with past associations.

Methods to Help Eliminate Vacancies

Your association and the management team want as many low vacancies as possible. Allow the management team to take this on since they have experience in this area. However, communicating to them that it's their responsibility needs doing early.

One of those expectations is management knowledge on how to take on marketing for your properties, particularly on social media. No management team is worth working with if they never have experience doing digital marketing to attract tenants.

They should also handle rent applications, screening, and lease signing processes.

Working Together On Other Responsibilities or Concerns

Some things you and the management team have to work together on include maintenance and repair approval, management salary payments, property tax/utility payments, and insurance payments.

Other times, management teams think they have to take on things that are not their sole responsibility. Perhaps this relates to dealing with cars speeding down neighborhood streets, or solving crime issues. Those usually fall toward city responsibility, plus the police in the case of crime.

All these issues need addressing early so there never is confusion on which thing each group focuses on. Since the unexpected will always come up, everything needs mentioning in writing to avoid stalled communication issues when an emergency arises.

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