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The Importance of an HOA Property Manager

Managing a homeowners association, especially a larger HOA, can be a considerable challenge. While an HOA board is responsible for this undertaking, board members face difficulties. They have personal and professional lives to juggle, so time is usually a luxury. Board members also do not always have the skills needed for the job. After all, they are just volunteers.

That is where an HOA property manager comes in. Also known as a community association manager or a condo association manager, an HOA property manager essentially shoulders most of the boards burden. But, rather than acting autonomously, the HOA manager works with the board to manage the community. It is worth noting that the HOA manager is not a part of the board.

The Duties and Responsibilities of an HOA Property Manager

A homeowners association manager performs many tasks that keep the community in good condition. These include common area maintenance, invoicing and collections, homeowner and board communication, rule enforcement, vendor management, financial management and reporting, board education and assistance, risk management, and administrative duties.

Common Area Maintenance:

HOA property managers must ensure all common areas and amenities remain clean and well-maintained. Often, this means conducting site inspections, fielding maintenance requests, and hiring vendors when necessary. Safety is also a top priority, as many things can happen to residents using common areas. For example, any injuries that occur on-site could hold the association liable.

Additionally, preventive maintenance is paramount and always trumps corrective maintenance. By following a preventative maintenance schedule, managers can keep structures and equipment functional for longer. It also avoids breakdowns, which can cost the association a lot of money to repair. If any special projects are underway, the manager is responsible for carrying out the contracts, ensuring the project remains on schedule and the HOA stays on budget.

Invoicing and Collections:

Homeowners associations collect regular fees from homeowners as a way to fund their expenses. The HOA property manager carries the burden of sending out invoices to homeowners ahead of time and making collection efforts. This includes any collections done online and offline. The manager should also track and manage delinquencies to keep the association and its members in good standing. This could mean imposing late fees, offering payment plans, placing a lien, and initiating foreclosure proceedings.

Homeowner and Board Communication:

Communication plays a significant role in the success of an HOA community. The HOA manager is responsible for keeping an open line of communication, whether with residents or the HOA board.

This includes sending out notices on time, facilitating the creation and distribution of newsletters, and ensuring residents have easy access to relevant information. It also means manning phone lines and email inboxes for any concerns coming from homeowners. It is often better to have a website or management software that allows for a more streamlined method of communication.

Rule Enforcement:

Every HOA manager should have a good grasp of the association’s bylaws and CC&Rs, allowing them to enforce the rules more consistently and thoroughly. For example, part of the job description is performing frequent inspections for violations, sending violation notices, and organizing disciplinary hearings. Keep in mind, though, that the manager does not have the final say on these matters. However, managers still must defer to the board’s decision and implement it accordingly.

Additionally, an HOA property manager should have more than just a working knowledge of the law. That doesn’t mean they should be lawyers. But, a deep understanding of the federal and state laws that apply to HOAs is critical in ensuring the association keeps out of legal trouble. Some examples of federal laws that apply to HOAs include the Fair Housing Act and the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act.

Vendor Management:

Homeowners associations don’t work alone. Often, it is necessary to employ outside help to carry out different functions. For instance, an HOA would need to hire a contractor to perform repairs or a landscaper for landscaping. In addition, the manager would be responsible for preparing requests for proposals (RFPs), helping the board choose a vendor, coordinating with existing vendors, and ensuring vendors do a good job.

Financial Management and Reporting:

For many homeowners associations, financial management is the most challenging aspect of HOA management. But, an HOA property manager can help with this. The manager would be in charge of accounting and bookkeeping. They would also prepare the monthly financial statements for the board’s review. Managers can also help the board plan and stay on budget.

Reserve studies, though, are often outside of an HOA property manager’s expertise. For example, the manager would need to hire a professional but still understand the study. An HOA manager can also assist the board with tax filing.

Board Education and Assistance:

Board members don’t always have the skills and knowledge required for successful community management. Fortunately, an HOA manager can help the board understand and implement the best practices. They can also help assess the current policies of the community and recommend any changes. After all, some boards create policies on a whim without considering whether or not they comply with the law and the association’s governing documents. In addition, some management companies also offer board education and training programs.

Risk Management:

Homeowners associations assume a lot of risks, too. The HOA managers’ job is to help mitigate these risks through careful evaluation and planning. For example, an HOA manager can help the board prepare for the worst-case scenario by determining the possible risks. This also means ensuring the association has the right insurance policies in place.

Administrative Duties:

Aside from those listed above, there are several other tasks managers have to fulfill that are more administrative. These include planning and attending board meetings, contract reviews, answering homeowner concerns, after-hours emergency services, organizing events, and maintaining the community website.

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