Master-planned communityIf you live in a master-planned community, you are a member of its master association. As the umbrella association for the community as a whole, the master association maintains common areas such as community roads, entrances, and amenities. You are responsible for paying dues and complying with the master association’s governing documents, articles, bylaws, and CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions). 

While sharing a similar name, master-planned communities are not the master association. Instead, this title refers to the large developments that integrate a variety of neighborhoods, sub-divisions, recreational facilities, and amenities under one community umbrella. 

Master-planned communities focus on lifestyle, convenience, and quality of life and offer homebuyers a range of residential options suited to different life stages and price points. Homebuyers can choose from single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, or apartments. All these residences are often located in distinct neighborhoods within the community and might be developed by multiple builders.

Master and sub-associations

In the case of master-planned communities, often, they host a master association to handle all the common areas to ensure consistent aesthetics and maintenance. But the master association isn’t always the only homeowners association within the community. Within the master association, there may be separate sub-associations or “subs” with their dues, policies, and governing documents developers create. 

If you own a home in one of these standalone subs, you are also a member of that association. That means you must pay a second set of dues to help cover the sub’s costs of maintaining your neighborhood’s common areas and amenities. In addition, you must obey the sub’s CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions), architectural guidelines, and other provisions, and those of the master association.

Is it reasonable to have different management companies in our community?

Deciding on an association management company can take time and effort. Within one master-planned community, the master association and sub-associations are governed by their boards of directors. As part of their duties, each board decides whether its association should be professionally managed and which property management company to hire. As a result, you’ll sometimes see master-planned communities with different management companies in the master association and sub-associations.

Sometimes, having separate community association management companies is better for the community. For example, certain management companies have specific expertise or experience that serves an association’s particular needs.  But often, having multiple management companies within one master-planned community creates conflict. Homeowners may be confused about which association or management company to contact for maintenance issues or noise complaints or whom to speak to pay dues or get architectural approval.

To ensure harmony and maximize value and lifestyle, master association and subs must work together to avoid conflict and achieve the community’s goals. That means subs shouldn’t compete or prioritize their own goals. They should set policies consistent with the master association’s rules and follow similar procedures. All associations within the master-planned community should be transparent, responsive, cooperative, and communicative.

The same goes for their community association management companies.
Nobody benefits if the management companies for the master association and sub-associations have different agendas or goals, aren’t cooperative, or don’t have the skills or experience to get the job done. But if that’s happening – and it’s more common than you may think – there are a few options. For starters, your community can request to replace their property management company with another more experienced, capable, or cooperative one.

A better option? All the associations can choose the same management company.

Benefits of one association management company for all

For obvious reasons, when one management company serves all associations within one master-planned community, it eliminates association conflict and homeowner confusion. Subs no longer feel the need to compete or clash to achieve their goals. Homeowners have one reliable go-to source for information, answers, and action – which goes a long way toward increasing customer service and building homeowner loyalty and engagement. 

By working closely with the master association and its subs, a community association management company is better positioned to help each association meet its needs and support the entire master-planned community to achieve its vision. That goes a long way to adding value and enhancing the quality of life of all its homeowners. After all, that peace of mind and quality of life is why homeowners choose a master-planned community in the first place.

How can I start the process of switching to one management company?

If you are on the board of your homeowner association and want to consider your options for bringing your community under one management company, below are a few pointers.
  1. Refer to your management contract and speak to your legal counsel. Your management contract will usually contain details on how to change HOA property management companies. If your contract is due to expire soon, then you can start looking for a new company right away. If it’s set to renew, make sure to cancel it before the deadline. As always, we encourage you to go over your contract with your legal counsel to avoid missing clauses, fines, and any other important information.
  2. Speak to your sub-associations. To bring your master-planned community under one management company, you need to have the support of all the other association boards. It is imperative that all of you follow the same process to ensure a timely transition once a new company is hired.
  3. Review the bids and proposals. Once you have the green light to search for a new management company, evaluating your community’s needs and the type of support you are looking for is essential. This will help in reviewing incoming bids and proposals so you can choose the management company that best fits your association’s unique needs.
While this is not a full-length step-by-step on transitioning between HOA management companies, it is a good place to start and begin the conversation amongst your homeowners.

For more information about master and sub-associations community association management and how FirstService Residential can provide full-service support to your community, click here.
Wednesday March 22, 2023