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Setting Expectations for Your HOA Management Company

The best relationships between HOAs and the management companies they employ are based on open communication and clear expectations. There is a lot that goes into maintaining property values. However, if you’re not exactly sure what your management company should be doing for your association, it can be difficult to determine if you’re getting the full value of your service agreement.

In legal terms, the role of your HOA management company is to act as an “agent of the corporation (your association).” This means they are responsible for acting on behalf of the association. Yet, they have no authority – legal or otherwise – to make decisions on behalf of the association unless authorized through the management contract or by the Board of Directors.

Ultimate decision-making is the responsibility of the board. Once decisions are made, the management company is then tasked with carrying out those directives on a day-to-day basis.

That said, part of their responsibility is to provide the association with business advice and best practices guidance. This can include everything from maintenance consulting, long-term planning, budget planning, vendor selection, and more.

Therefore, keeping an open line of communication for collaboration is essential. Employing an association management team who fully familiarizes themselves with your property and community is also key. Since they are paid to give their professional opinion to help guide the board in making their final decisions, it’s important to ensure everyone is aligned and working toward the same goals.

Getting clear on expectations is what helps a HOA thrive. Here’s how to set them appropriately with your association management company – and receive the most value to preserve a long-term relationship.

Review your management contract

The management contract spells out exact details as to what’s included as part of the service agreement. To understand exactly what that entails for your association, board members should review it thoroughly and pose questions ahead of time to clarify language.

Most agreements explicitly cover things like: number of monthly property walk-throughs the manager will conduct, number of board meetings the manager is required to attend, types of documents, services, and property management resources the manager is responsible for providing, as well as specific requirements unique to each community.

However, as communities grow and evolve, their needs will change as well. We recommend reviewing your management company service agreement the quarter after every board member election. This will enable you to evaluate the type and frequency of service you receive from your management company and if it is still meeting your community’s current needs and expectations.

If not, start a discussion with your manager about taking steps toward amending the agreement. What may have worked before may not be what works best now. It’s best to talk through changes and put in writing what the new expectations are and why they are necessary.

Encourage feedback from homeowners

A HOA management company is a valuable resource for homeowners. Though they primarily consult with the association’s board, managers are equally valuable advocates for homeowners as well. The manager and management company are not “on the board’s side.” They are on the side of the success of the association as a whole.

If a homeowner has an issue with the association, the manager will try to remedy the situation or help the member go through the proper channels to address the matter with the board. We encourage homeowners to share feedback with managers, as managers are genuinely interested in how well they are serving the needs of the membership.

Constructive feedback can help boost community engagement. When everyone is working together toward securing the betterment of the property, they will maintain its value and make HOA membership a more harmonious experience for everyone.

Read More: What Tasks Do Community Association Management Companies Handle?

Engage a full-time onsite manager

Your manager and management company are your association’s long-term partners, though they are likely splitting their time with other clients. Managers are skilled at time management and will make sure your community’s needs are a top priority. However, if you find your community requires more attention than you’re currently receiving, bring up this topic with your manager. They will add it to the agenda for your next board meeting to initiate the discussion.

As your community changes, you may realize an increased level of involvement is necessary and together, you can work toward amending the agreement to accommodate your needs. You may want to consider allocating more resources to increase the number of hours your manager dedicates to your association. Many boards like the attention and personalization a full-time, dedicated onsite property manager provides.

By integrating themselves fully into your community, an onsite HOA management team has a pulse on the everyday happenings of the association. With first-hand knowledge, they can be more proactive in preventing problems from escalating and providing solutions. Furthermore, it’s nice to have in-person availability and a friendly face to mediate as situations arise.

Explore various methods of engagement

Your manager is always happy to answer questions and talk through issues with the board and association members. However, many homeowners want quick and easy answers to basic questions without having to contact the manager.

Using today’s technology resources – like the community’s website, e-blast communications, board portal, member portal, social media channels, and online groups – provides two-pronged value: it helps members quickly obtain important information and property management resources, and it frees up your manager to focus on issues requiring more of their expertise.

If your association isn’t taking full advantage of technology, it’s time to start putting these solutions into place. Even when you maintain other channels of communication, technology provides the immediacy to answers many are looking for. It’s wise to implement a combination of several methods to ensure equal accessibility to information and use resources wisely.

Identify gaps to fill

A solid working relationship between an association and its HOA management company is all about expectations: what you believe you should be receiving compared to what your management company is providing. Though the contract should clearly outline these terms, as board members switch and communities change, there may be gaps to fill.

Stronger communication results in a stronger partnership. Never hesitate to talk with your HOA management company to fill gaps, raise concerns, and clarify details. Not all companies offer the same type or level of services, so it’s important everyone is aligned from the beginning.

Expectations will evolve over time

As mentioned above, the relationship between the HOA and the management company will change as the community evolves. Keep comparing the community’s needs with the service type and level the management company provides. At Keystone, we offer a full range of services and expertise including:

  • Property maintenance supervision
  • Board meeting facilitation and preparation
  • Community communication programs
  • Vendor qualification and monitoring
  • Architectural support services
  • California Civil Code compliance
  • Board member training programs

Services also include support for budgeting, securing insurance, and providing legal resources. Each one of the areas outlines specific responsibilities and terms of what to expect in terms of support. Whatever is needed to maintain high property values, a HOA management company provides assistance when strategizing and implementing a plan.

Again, don’t be afraid to redefine what is needed – or share positive feedback about what’s working well. Your HOA manager and the entire management company backing them want to exceed your expectations. Being upfront about what you want and checking in regularly are the only ways to get there.

Let’s discuss how your association can maximize the full value of the relationships with your HOA management company relationship. Contact Keystone today to get the conversation started.

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