Community associations today employ highly-qualified professional community association managers, and we think residents should know what the manager has—and has not—been hired to do.
Some residents expect the manager to perform certain tasks that just aren’t part of the job. When the manager doesn’t meet those expectations, residents are unhappy. In short, the manager has two primary responsibilities: Carry out policies set by the board and manage the association’s daily operations.
In practice, what does that mean for some common resident questions and concerns?
- The manager is trained to deal with conflict, but he or she typically will not get involved in quarrels you might be having with your neighbor. However, if association rules are being violated, the manager is the right person to notify.
- While the manager works closely with the board, he or she is an advisor—not a member of the board. Also, the manager is not your advocate with or conduit to the board. If you have a concern, send a letter or e-mail directly to the board.
- Although the manager works for the board, he or she is available to residents. That doesn’t mean the manager will drop everything to take your call. If you need to see the manager, call and arrange a meeting.
- The manager is always happy to answer questions, but he or she is not the information officer. For routine inquiries, like the date of the next meeting, read the newsletter or check the association website or bulletin board.
- The manager is responsible for monitoring contractors’ performance but not supervising them. Contractors are responsible for supervising their own personnel. If you have a problem with a contractor, notify the manager, who will forward your concerns to the board. The board will decide how to proceed under the terms of the contract.
- The manager inspects the community regularly but even an experienced manager won’t catch everything. Your help is essential. If you know about a potential maintenance issue, report it to the manager.
- The manager does not set policy. If you disagree with a policy or rule, you’ll get better results sending a letter or e-mail to the board than arguing with the manager.
- The manager has a broad range of expertise, but he or she is not a consultant to the residents. Neither is he or she typically an engineer, architect, attorney, or accountant. The manager may offer opinions but don’t expect technical advice in areas where he or she is not qualified.
- Although the manager is a great resource to the association, he or she is not available 24 hours per day—except for emergencies. Getting locked out of your home may be an emergency to you, but it isn’t an association emergency. An association emergency is defined as a threat to life or property.
For more information on the community association manager’s role, visit www.caionline.org and search “community managers.”
Do you have piles of clothes, papers, and “stuff” collecting in your home? You’re not alone. It’s time to clean up that clutter and make your abode a more enjoyable and relaxing place to live. To help you tackle your next home organization project, follow this quick guide to decluttering:
- Create a schedule. Depending on how high those piles are, you may not be able to accomplish the task in a single weekend. So, try tackling one room at a time. It may seem like a daunting project, but it will be less scary if you break it down into segments.
- Practice a one-item-in-one-item-out rule. When you buy an item of clothing, for example, throw out one item of clothing. Not only will it keep down the clutter, but it will also make you rethink whether you really want to buy that new item.
- Create a stress-free environment in the bedroom. That means no piles of toys and no mounds of clothes. It should be a place where you can rest without worry.
- Make cleaning up fun for kids by turning it into a game. Kids are often the clutter culprits; involve them in the process to make things neater and more organized.
- Know your vision for the room. What do you want from a room? Is it a place where you work, a space where you unwind, a playroom for the little ones, or something else? If you can answer that question, you’ll be able to decide what items stay and what items go.
- Try to make decluttering a part of your everyday life. If you do it at the same time every day—like before you go to bed—the piles won’t accumulate and you won’t have to set aside a block of time to do a major cleaning.
[Apologies to Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston Jr.]
‘Twas the night before the HOA’s Christmas, and through the community
Not a complaint was heard, there appeared just pure unity;
The thank-you notes were placed by the bulletin board with care,
In hopes that the board and manager would soon see them there;
The homeowners were nestled all snug in their beds,
No worries of paint or roofs bothering their heads,
And the Vice President in her condo, and I in mine too,
Had just settled down for a break from reviewing the dues,
When out in the courtyard there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my balcony to see what was the matter.
Away to the railing I flew like a flash,
Only to see neighbors with gripes to rehash.
I couldn’t figure out in the dark of the night
Exactly what they thought gave them the right,
But I knew from my time on the homeowners board,
Our meetings these neighbors had always ignored,
Then in a flash I noticed a visitor,
Who tried to join that group of inquisitors
He wore a red fur coat over an ample belly, and
His hearty laugh made it shake as it were jelly,
His smile quickly faded as they all turned away,
They told him that tenants had nothing to say,
The jolly man disappeared as quickly as he came here,
Amid the sound of eight snorting… reindeer?
In a moment came another, without much ado,
He arrived with a viewpoint needed and new,
I knew in a flash it was manager, Nick.
He knew what was needed and he brought it quick,
He exclaimed “Now, Member! now, Neighbor! Now, Bylaws and Covenant,
Please read the rules before bringing your comment.
Now back to your homes, and back to your castles,
Please, just for today, have a cease to the hassles”
He said “you by choice bought in a community,
Which works at its best when all live in unity,
Remember that your board serves you for free,
and consider joining a committee – or three.
“You have no busy elves, and HOAs thrive when all work as a team,
If all think only of selves, a nightmare soon it will seem.
Your association is much like a large but rowed boat,
If each rows as a solo, not for long will it float.”
Amidst headshakes and handshakes the courtyard then cleared,
And I hoped that above still flew a sleigh and eight impatient reindeer.
No reindeer or jolly elf’s labors returned to the site,
But folks reached to their neighbors, and started treating them right.
A different air began to take hold in the complex
As the Golden Rule became our theme and our text.
Manager Nick surveyed the scene, pleased,
Knowing the group a happy future had it seized.
And laying his finger aside of his face,
He ran toward his car as if in a race;
He sprang to his auto, heading home in a dash,
And away he drove as quick as a flash.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!
[Readers: May peace and neighborliness permeate your communities in the coming year!]
A common mistake in state legislatures considering community association manager licensing—and among the general public—is to lump community association managers and property managers into the same bucket. While both are very important roles, they are distinctly different professions with functions, skill sets, and responsibilities specific to each.
A community association manager can manage every type of community: condominium associations, homeowner associations, resort communities, and commercial tenant associations. A community association manager works directly with property owners and homeowners.
Property managers oversee individual rental units or a group of rental units, such as an apartment complex. They’re responsible for managing the entire property, while community association managers are responsible for common areas—not individually owned properties.
“From a legislative standpoint, this incorrect categorization occurs because state legislators misunderstand the nature of community association management,” says Matthew Green, director of credentialing services for Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB). “They believe that community association management skills are identical to those of a property manager without recognizing the vastly different responsibilities of these two positions.”
This misunderstanding of the two professions often bleeds into more general conversations occurring in this space. Compounding this is the reality that there’s a slight overlap in a couple of the duties performed. For example, both property managers and community association managers supervise certain maintenance activities, such as swimming pool upkeep and trash removal. But it’s important to understand that community association managers oversee and direct all aspects of running the business operation. This means that they authorize payment for association services; develop budgets and present association financial reports to board members; direct the enforcement of restrictive covenants; perform site inspections; solicit, evaluate, and assist in insurance purchases; and even supervise the design and delivery of association recreational programs.
Property managers are responsible for managing the actual property and therefore handle the physical assets of the unit at the owner’s request. Property managers generally oversee rental units and leases. Their responsibilities might include finding or evicting tenants, collecting rent, and responding to tenant complaints or specific requests. If a property manager is responsible for a vacation or second home, he or she may arrange for services such as house-sitting or local sub-contracting necessary to maintain that property. Alternatively, an owner may opt to delegate specific tasks to a property manager and choose to handle other duties directly.
Stephanie Durner, CMCA, AMS, director of community management at River Landing, a gated golf course community in Wallace, N.C., views the distinction this way:
“While property managers are generally charged with overseeing physical structures that are used by people who are not the owners of the property, association managers represent the property owners themselves and are involved in just about every aspect of the overall community. For instance, if a garage door is broken at a rental house, the tenant would call a property manager or owner/landlord. But if there’s a pothole that needs repair or if a neighbor’s dog is running loose through the neighborhood, that’s a task for the community association manager who both maintains the common areas and upholds the governing rules. To me, community association management is a more holistic approach that contributes to the overall quality of life for all the owners in a community.”
Green emphasizes that while some job responsibilities are similar, community association managers have additional functions. “It’s critical that community association management be recognized as distinct from property management because association management requires a wider variety of knowledge and skills,” he says.
CAMICB offers and maintains the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) credential, the only international certification program designed exclusively for managers of homeowner and condominium associations and cooperatives. The CMCA credential means an individual has taken and passed the rigorous CMCA examination, proving they have a solid understanding of the business operations involved in being a community association manager.
The post above originally was published on CAMICB’s CMCAcorner blog. Follow along for the latest on the essential credential for community managers.