Property Management & Community Association Board Members: 6 Ways Together is Better

Homeowner and condo association board members know that their collective actions yield lots of great results.  Just take a look at the minutes from your last couple of meetings and you’ll see all the evidence you need.
Talk to a property manager and you’ll find they’re constantly busy, with many action items.
So what happens when these two highly productive groups get together to collaborate? Well, if the relationship is based on clear expectations, the answer is “a lot of good things.” That’s why it’s important to clearly understand the roles of the community association board and your property management company. Knowing which body is responsible for what will help make sure objectives are met – and nothing slips through the cracks.
To help make this transparent plan work, remember...

1. The board sets the vision.

Look at it this way: you are the one who has decided to dedicate your free time and a considerable amount of effort to make your community a better place to live. That’s a serious – and admirable – commitment. That alone entitles you and your fellow board members to the privilege of providing the leadership and inspiration for the community you’re envisioning. Along the way, you’ll create a sense of interconnectedness among residents, help onboard committee members, keep residents committed to upholding community standards, and foster a sense of wellbeing and belonging to each of your neighbors.

2. Your property management company helps put the board’s vision in motion.

Your management company is charged with assisting your board and turning your vision into a reality. They’ll have the expertise and the experience to lay the groundwork that fulfills the overall strategy. Want to bring down the budget? Then the best property management company will know how to work with vendors, leverage relationships and renegotiate contracts to do just that. Want to foster a greater sense of community? A good property management company will have ideas on how to bring people together and help them communicate and share ideas with greater efficiency. Want to be prepared for the unexpected? Your property management company has probably seen it all and helped communities prepare for just about anything, from floods to hurricanes and everything in between.

3. The board operates in an administrative capacity.

Board members are often the authority on covenants, codes and regulations. Along with the committees you build, you’ll help your community stay true to the guidelines that keep it thriving and vibrant. A good board member knows that means not only the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law, too.

4. Your property manager operates in an executive capacity.

Enforcing association covenants, codes and regulations falls to your property manager. They’ll make sure that any recorded amendments are incorporated in your governing documents and distributed to your owners and residents as required; they’ll send violations when there’s an infraction; and they’re the professional that a resident calls, 24/7, when they have an issue or concern. You’re not getting paid for this – the last thing you want is your phone ringing at 3 a.m. because of an upstairs unit’s ruptured water heater.

5. The board should get specific about expectations – and priorities.

So it’s clear that much of the board’s role is big picture thinking. But it’s crucial that you focus around a few specifics, especially when it comes down to expectations and priorities. Be clear with your property manager about how you see their role, and eliminate any potential misunderstandings from the start. Likewise, be extremely concrete in your priorities. Your property manager is probably an excellent multi-tasker (it’s an essential part of the job), but knowing what’s most important to your community will help your manager tackle the most pressing issues first.

6. Your property management company brings diverse skills to support the board and your community.

They’ll come to your meetings. They’ll lead your meetings. They’ll post notices about the meetings before they even happen. And afterward, they’ll file the minutes and notes from the meetings. Your property manager will also conduct an inspection of your premises to troubleshoot any potential maintenance issues. They’ll leverage relationships with banks, insurance companies, maintenance companies, landscape companies, security companies and more, just to make sure you have well-negotiated rates and receive excellent service. They’ll distribute financial packages and help you stay compliant with the city ordinances and building codes. They’ll take those late-night calls and meet service people early in the morning if needed. A great property management company will provide your community with a technology that allows residents, board members, committee members and staff to communicate in one place – and get important community information and updates, too.

At the end of the day, collaboration between boards and property management companies is essential to the wellbeing of a community and its residents. By working together, you can maximize the potential of both organizations – and that’s a pretty powerful combination, indeed.

Friday May 16, 2014