06 Apr Who Does the HOA Manager Serve?
In the world of professional property management, there are many important players — from homeowners to tenants and representatives for the homeowners association (HOA). Another term for the homeowner association is common interest development or CID.
As a homeowner, it is important that you understand how the HOA works, especially if you are thinking about renting your home or property to a tenant. You may also be a board member yourself or member of the HOA.
The main takeaway is that the manager of the HOA is not nor cannot be a manager of individual units in the development. This is where Metro Property Services comes in, offering professional property management services to individual unit owners. We look out for the interests of owners in concert with the interest of the HOA managers.
With a homeowners association, the property manager has only one master: the Board of Directors. Guided by the governing documents (CC&Rs, Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation) the Board is charged with the task of making sure the Association assets are maintained and that the organization protects the rights of owners, as well as serves their needs.
For the most part, the common interest areas lie outside the owner’s front door and unit boundaries. Virtually everything inside the four walls, ceiling and floors is the unit owner’s responsibility. The most common exceptions involve plumbing, wiring and ducting that serve multiple units.
The limits of HOA and owner responsibility have been worked out over the years and it is commonly acknowledged as to who performs maintenance and repair duties.
The CID manager is often asked by owners to recommend repair vendors for interior repairs, but the manager must be very careful when making such recommendations and avoid crossing the legal/liability line. HOA managers must recommend only licensed and insured vendors and make it clear to owners that the recommendations carry no implied guarantee of quality.
This raises the question of whether the vendor will know when and how to make a proper connection to the common area electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems.
The potential for conflict is even higher when the manger is serving an investor or out of town owner. The manager is often asked to open a door or allow entry for a repair vendor. Unless they are very careful, it can be easy for the manager to align with the rights of the individual owner that are actually in conflict with the governing documents. The HOA should develop clear policies to deal with such potential conflicts.
Throw the presence of a tenant into the mix with the investor-owner unit and things get even more interesting. The HOA manager is clearly not the unit owner’s manager and cannot serve two masters. Yet, this is often the position the CID manager finds himself in. Although similar, the interests of the resident owner and investor owner are different in some basic areas.
The tenant is rightfully expecting the full use of all common areas as well as service by on-site staff. The investor owner, however, may sometimes expect the CID manager to assist in what is essentially a landlord/tenant matter, such as an appliance or unity amenity repair. The investor is wise to engage in independent representation.
Metro Property Services offers such expert independent representation. Contact us for details at 310-220-4495 or visit us online.