Condominium Boards and Property Management:<br>Here's why Together is Better
Condominium and homeowner association boards are responsible for all the decisions that are made in order to operate the community. They know that without their dedication to the day-to-day operational details, things would not get done in a manner that is fiscally responsible and equitable to all the owners. The board meeting minutes are records of the choices, and resulting actions, of the board. Owners are entitled to review the documents of the condominium corporation to gain an understanding of its operation.
Ask any condominium manager what their job entails and they will tell you it is largely made up of carrying out the many action items of the board.
So how do condominium boards and managers create a successful management partnership? In order to achieve effective results, the relationship must have a foundation that sets clear expectations for each party. For this reason it’s important for all involved to clearly understand the roles of both the property manager and the condominium or HOA board. Knowing who is accountable for each task will help to ensure objectives are realized – and nothing is unintentionally neglected.
Following are the important things to remember for a positive board-manager relationship.
1. The board makes the decisions.
Board members are volunteers who donate a considerable amount of their free time and effort in order to add value to their association. As stewards of the collective ownership they have great responsibility. They must provide the vision and leadership needed for their multi-family, diverse-interest community to thrive. This includes protecting community standards, determining budgets and maintenance plans and caring for the shared investment of all the owners. When the board is effective, a sense of well-being and belonging is created amongst the residents.
2. The condominium management company is responsible for carrying out the board’s decisions.
The management company’s role is to assist the board and make sure their decisions result in completed projects. The property manager is the professional who is experienced at assembling the components that will accomplish the board-planned tasks. Is being budget-conscious a priority for your corporation? For most it is. A great property management company has excellent relationships with contractors and other suppliers. The manager will be able to use these connections to bring savings to the condominium corporation in many areas. Does the board want to create a sense of community between neighbours? The best property management company will have expertise and suggestions on how to improve communication and share ideas effectively. How about disaster preparedness? A good property management company has most likely been through it all, helping communities prepare for, and recover from, everything from floods to fires to severe weather – anything mother-nature and/or life throws at them.
3. The board is the administrator in the partnership.
Part of the board members’ duties is to be well-versed in the bylaws and policies of their corporation. Bylaws and policies are necessary in communal living situations. They provide a foundation of acceptable conduct that is essential if residents are to co-exist harmoniously. However, board members need to use good judgment as they make decisions about implementation of the rules; a heavy-handed approach will not usually achieve the desired result, but sometimes there is no option other than to be firm.
4. The property manager takes care of the details.
Enforcing condominium bylaws and policies is the responsibility of the property manager. The manager will coordinate updating information when necessary and ensure any changed documents are distributed to the owners; send bylaw infraction letters when there’s a violation; be the primary contact point for owners and residents; and provide 24-hour emergency service. As volunteers the board is not expected to look after these tasks – that’s why they hire the management company. The manager is experienced with all manner of situations and has procedures in place to deal with them.
5. The board should clearly specify expectations and priorities.
By now it should be obvious that the role of the board is to see the big picture. But it’s essential that they define their expectations and priorities. At the beginning of the relationship, in order to avoid misunderstandings, it is crucial for them to discuss how they see the role of the property manager. They should also be clear about their priorities. While the property manager is skilled at dealing with a multitude of different situations, often handling many at once, understanding what is most important to a community will help them determine which projects to tackle first.
6. How does your property management company support your community and the board?
Your property manager will attend your meetings and lead them if necessary. The company will notify owners about AGMs and other general meetings so that they may attend. They will also post the minutes of the meetings and other important documents to their website for easy retrieval by all who may need them. Regular inspections of your property are conducted by your manager to identify potential maintenance and governance issues. Your community will benefit from the long-standing relationships your management company has with insurance brokers, banks, and contractors, such as landscapers and maintenance providers. Using their connection to all types of services you can be sure you will have the best possible rates and receive excellent service. Other things your manager will do on your property’s behalf is prepare and distribute financial packages, provide 24-hour emergency support and meet service people onsite when needed. Finally, a great condominium management company will improve communication within your community by supplying technology that will allow residents, board and committee members, and staff to have access to important updates and community information – all in one place and available from anywhere that has Internet access.
So it’s easy to see how a healthy partnership between a board and a professional property management company is critical to the health of a condominium or HOA. When both parties work well together, the result is a powerful and beneficial dynamic. To learn more, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company. Find out how working together can realize big rewards for your community.