Community association management companies are contracted by an HOA to work on the association’s behalf. Management companies have no decision-making power over the HOA. However, they do act at the board’s behest. An easy way to think of it is this: The board’s job is to make decisions. The management’s job is to carry them out.
So, what does this look like in practice?
The duties of management companies generally fall into three broad categories: administrative support, advisory services and ongoing maintenance.
The efforts of a community manager should make things easier for board members to show up to meetings and make speedy, informed decisions in the best interest of the association. Remember, HOA boards of directors are usually comprised of a group of dedicated volunteers. In addition to overseeing the association, they have busy careers and personal lives, too. The community manager handles time-consuming tasks so the board can focus on high-impact decision-making.
With additional behind-the-scenes support from the entire community association management company, managers are responsible for daily administrative items such as:
- Recording and distributing board meeting minutes
- Facilitating board meetings
- Managing contracts with vendors
- Assembling vendor due diligence
- Managing HOA correspondence and communications
- Paying bills
- Collecting and depositing assessments
- Planning and executing board-approved community events
Though the HOA board is responsible for making all decisions, community association management companies have deep experience and expertise in management best practices. It’s wise to seek their input.
Most of the community managers at Keystone are certified by Community Associations Institute (CAI), which means they are keeping current with California civil code sections that apply to condominiums, cooperatives and planned unit development communities. Their insight is invaluable to ensure HOAs act lawfully.
Though HOA management companies will refer the board to the association’s attorney for legal advice, managers can provide guidance on most other matters, including reserve allocation, current trends in amenities, vendor comparison, planning for capital improvements, community-building activities and developing the community’s long-term strategic plan.
Over time, most boards learn to trust their management company’s expertise, thus increasing the efficiency of operations overall. We’ve seen the powerful benefits of a strong manager/HOA relationship, which is why we place so much emphasis on finding the right managerial fit.
The community manager provides a “boots-on-the-ground” presence on behalf of the board. Managers conduct regular inspections of the property to make sure common areas are in good working order and members are abiding by the association’s rules and regulations. They also handle the day-to-day communications and coordination with vendors, both for standard maintenance contracts and special one-off projects.
As a time-saving measure, many boards pre-authorize their manager to oversee certain low-expenditure projects on their behalf, in place of requiring approval from the board every small task. They authorize the manager to handle minor items, such as repairing broken sprinkler heads, replacing lighting or overseeing simple plumbing repairs in common spaces.
The manager is always responsible for providing a real-time balance sheet of expenses at board meetings and/or upon specific request from the board. Not all associations choose to grant this responsibility to their community manager – like all things, it’s up to the discretion of each board of directors.
What do managerial duties look like in practice?
Though the amount of support HOAs receive from their community association management companies may seem overwhelming, the reality is that this wide breadth of services fits seamlessly into day-to-day workflow.
Here’s an example:
During a weekly walk-through, the community manager notices that the streets need to be re-sealed (Ongoing Maintenance). The manager adds the topic to the next board meeting agenda (Administrative Support). At the meeting, the manager shares bids and provides a recommendation for the vendor who fits the HOA’s budget, timeline and service requirements (Advisory Services). After the board makes a decision, the manager is tasked with overseeing the contract and project execution (Administrative Support).
The extensive amount of responsibilities undertaken by community association management companies ultimately add up to a full-time job. Management companies provide crucial, hands-on support to associations – some of which is obvious, some is less noticeable but equally important. All the tasks performed by management companies ladder up to a single, overriding objective: to protect the property values in the association and build a thriving, welcoming community.