Master-planned communities are found throughout Minnesota suburbs and are developments that integrate a variety of housing types divided into sub-communities (aka sub associations), but are under one larger community umbrella.  Most of them incorporate townhomes or twin homes and single-family homes and, but can also include additional housing styles like condominiums and senior living facilities.

What’s the difference between Master and Sub Associations?
If you live in a master-planned community, you are a member of its master association and are responsible for paying dues and complying with its governing documents, rules and regulations and architectural guidelines.  As the big ‘umbrella’ association for the entire community, the master association maintains common areas such as entrance monuments and any private community amenities like neighborhood pools, trails and playgrounds.  

Within a master association, there may be separate sub associations, or “subs”. These will have their own governing documents and dues, and may have additional rules and regulations and architectural guidelines that pertain only to residents in that particular sub association.

One For All and All For One?
Here’s where it can get tricky.  Within the same Minnesota community, the master association and sub associations are governed by  separate Boards of Directors, so it’s up to each Board to decide whether their association should be professionally managed or not.  As a result, you can end up with several different property management companies operating in one community.

In some instances this is a good decision – for example, one of the sub associations may require specialized services that only a few management companies provide. However, in most cases, having several management companies can create confusion, conflict and misunderstanding.  It can be confusing for residents to understand which management company to contact if they have a maintenance request for their townhome, need approval from the architectural committee, or want to file a noise complaint or maintenance request at the community pool or playground.

It’s important that all of the associations work together to avoid conflict, and maximize the community’s value and lifestyle.  Sub associations should set rules that are consistent with those of the master association and follow similar procedures.  Each of the associations should be transparent, responsive, cooperative and communicative –  same goes for their respective association management companies.

Nobody wins if the management companies have different agendas or goals, aren’t cooperative or don’t have the skills or experience to get the job done. This is more common than you may think, so if you find yourself in this situation, there are a few options:
  • One, several or all of the associations can replace their current property management companies with others that are more experienced, capable and/or cooperative.
  • A better option?  All of the associations can choose the same management company.  Tom Carlson, community association attorney and founder of Carlson & Associates LTD said, “this creates better communication and ensures seamless and efficient operations for all of the associations”.

Benefits of One Association Management Company for All
When all of the associations in the same Minnesota community are managed by the same association management company, it significantly reduces homeowner confusion; they have one reliable point of contact to obtain answers and action. This goes a long way towards increasing effectiveness and customer service, and also enhances homeowner loyalty and engagement.  The sub associations also tend to not compete to achieve their goals.

By hiring one association management company to work with every association, they can significantly expand their knowledge, engagement and effectiveness of managing.  The management company is also better positioned to help all the associations meet their individual needs while working for the greater good and assisting master-planned community in achieving its vision, which goes a long way toward adding value and enhancing the quality of life for all homeowners. “Because of the interplay between the master association and the sub associations, good communication between the different associations is key,” says Tom.

If you'd like to discuss how FirstService Residential might be able to make a difference for your community, contact us today!
Thursday May 26, 2016