It can take time to find the right HOA property management company and even longer to develop a solid, working relationship. However, if you’re starting to feel like your existing arrangement just isn’t working, it might be time to cut ties and move on. You shouldn’t have to settle for subpar services at high costs or work with a partner who isn’t truly on your side.
Your HOA property management company has a responsibility to keep the property running smoothly, advise you of upcoming costs and expected maintenance issues, keep the lines of communication open with the board and association residents, and make sure all issues are addressed quickly. A good property manager will have small issues from time to time, but the property will usually run smoothly, and problems will be resolved quickly. If your HOA property management company is failing in any area of your property management, it may be time to re-evaluate their services.
If you’re experiencing any of the following warning signs in working with your existing property management company, you should definitely start searching for a new partner. We promise a better property management company is out there and waiting for you!
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#1: Hidden Costs
When you partner with a property management company, the fee structure should be clearly outlined. If your monthly fees begin to rise out of the blue, you should ask for clarification on each and every charge. Transparent costs, alongside communication, will help contribute to the profitability of your investment. However, if your property management company starts to ding you with new fees, simply asking for a revised service agreement may not be enough to save the relationship.
While your property management company may handle bookkeeping, accounts, budgets, collection of fees and payments, it should be completely transparent with the HOA board. The board should have access to all financial reports and accounting statements with all fees clearly detailed. Costs that are lumped together with no explanation may indicate mismanagement of funds. Expect completely transparent accounting every month.
#2: Handling Financial Collections
The financial health of your HOA relies heavily on efficient collection and management of dues and assessments. If your current management company is struggling with this task, it may result in financial instability for the HOA. Whether it’s due to poor communication, inefficient collection strategies, or inaccurate bookkeeping, these financial shortcomings can directly impact the association’s ability to maintain the property and provide necessary services. A new property management company with a proven track record of successful financial management can offer a solution.
#3: Payment Inconsistencies
If your management company is having trouble transferring owner disbursements to you or starts to deviate from previous behavior, you should take notice. It’s important that you partner with a property management company that values paying owners and investors on time. If you experience erratic payments, late payments or missed payments, it’s a definite sign of procedural issues within the property management organization. When it comes to getting paid, you simply cannot afford to ignore mistakes!
Another sign of a problem happens when association fees are paid, but not posted promptly. This can result in erroneous late fees to homeowners or possibly litigation. Poor management with respect to accounts receivable is a red flag and should be investigated immediately. A management company who does not respect your money does not deserve your business.
#4: Constant Maintenance of the Community
Property maintenance is a key responsibility of the HOA, ensuring the community is both attractive and safe for residents. If the community spaces are deteriorating due to lack of attention, it’s a sign that your property management company is falling short. Whether it’s landscaping, repairing shared amenities, or addressing issues reported by homeowners, an effective management company will schedule and manage regular maintenance. If these tasks are being neglected, hiring a new management company that understands and prioritizes maintenance needs can be beneficial.
#5: Lacking Legal Guidance
A good HOA Property Management company doesn’t just manage financials and maintenance – they also provide essential legal guidance. HOAs are governed by a myriad of laws and regulations, and it’s vital that the management company knows these inside and out. If your current company is unable to provide guidance or struggles with legal compliance, it could put the HOA at risk. A new company with a strong understanding of HOA law can help navigate complex legal landscapes, protect the association’s interests, and ensure legal obligations are met.
#6: Communication Issues
It is the duty of a property manager to respond to your emails and calls in a timely fashion and with urgency as necessary. However, if you’re receiving slow responses from your property manager, or not receiving responses at all, you should go on high alert that something is amiss. You should also know who to get in touch with if you have questions. If there is confusion about your main point of contact or continual turnover in this position, you should consider elevating your concerns. When you work with an HOA property manager there should be an understanding that you will communicate honestly about the good and the bad; the last thing you want is to hear complaints from a contractor, vendor or tenant directly.
If your HOA management company is not responding to your calls and emails in a timely fashion, you can be sure that association owners and tenants are experiencing poor service. This is one of the biggest complaints about HOA managers. Expect a good property manager to submit contact reports to the board providing a record of incoming communications and responses given.
#7: Diminishing Levels of Service
A good property management company will take care of your property by conducting regular visits to provide cleaning and upkeep of common areas, in addition to oversight of any active contract services. However, if you’re sensing that some of these general expectations aren’t being met by your HOA property manager, you should start asking questions and demanding regular updates.
A representative from your HOA management company is required to be present at regular meetings of the HOA board. If there are unreasonable delays resolving homeowner problems or other concerns, set goals and deadlines at the meeting. If projects are not completed, or if tenant requests and building cleanliness continue to be ignored, you should start looking for a new partner immediately!
#8: Enforcing Community Rules is Becoming a Challenge
Enforcing community rules and regulations is integral to maintaining harmony and order within the HOA. If your current property management company is failing to enforce these rules consistently or fairly, it can lead to discontent among residents and damage the community’s cohesiveness. This could be due to poor communication, lack of enforcement procedures, or a simple unwillingness to uphold rules. A new property management company that understands the importance of rule enforcement and has effective systems in place could bring much-needed order and peace to your community.
#9: Reduced Profits
If your lease or rental rate has slowed to a crawl, the profits on your property will be reduced in kind. This is a common reason to question the integrity of your property management company and it should call into question the marketing efforts that are being used to promote your property. Financial losses should be avoided whenever possible and this should be one of the top priorities of your management company.
Whenever profits drop, investigate to discover why. Ask the management company about the drop and evaluate their answer. If the drop is due to one-time expenses, it will return to normal quickly. But when profits go into decline, you deserve an explanation. If your HOA property manager cannot satisfactorily explain the decline and what is being done to fix it, it is time to look for a new property manager.
#10: Poor Relationships with Association Residents
The HOA board and property management company serve the members of the Homeowners Association. Property owners can sometimes be unreasonable or demanding, however it is the job of the property manager to be unbiased, firm, and fair at all times. Polite communication is a must.
Unfortunately, this is a common complaint from homeowners. Staff from the property management company can sometimes be discourteous or disrespectful. Complaints of this nature should be taken seriously. The first time it happens, there may be a good explanation. However, if you hear these complaints regularly, you may need a new HOA property manager.
#11: Issues of Compliance or Violations that Remain Unaddressed
One of the benefits of hiring an HOA management company is having a professional, unbiased party to address violations and compliance to the HOA Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). Addressing issues of violations or non-compliance quickly reduces the chances of problems between board members and residents.
If your HOA property manager is not addressing the violations quickly, you could end up with angry residents and board members. Unaddressed issues can lower the residents’ satisfaction with their property and their general quality of life. If your HOA manager is not addressing issues of compliance or violations quickly, consider whether your management company has the right expectations for your relationship.
If your current property management company is falling short in any of these areas, it might be time to consider hiring a new one. The right company will ensure efficient financial management, maintain the community to a high standard, provide valuable legal guidance, and enforce community rules effectively. Ultimately, making a change can help ensure a better living environment for all residents.
Finding the right partner isn’t always easy and can certainly be an annoying process. You may also have to work through a few companies before you find the right partner. But, when you do find an HOA property management company that operates with your same values in mind, it will be the start of a great new working relationship.