Hey, HOA Manager: Shape Up or Ship Out
In this week's tip, we answer two readers' question about how to make their management company start meeting the terms of their contract. One writer says his HOA has written emails to the management company about the lack of performance, and the emails have gone unanswered.
If you're frustrated with your HOA's manager, the first thing to remember is that your manager must do what's promised in the contract. "The management company can't refuse to perform what's obligated by the contract unless the board is asking the manager to perform something unethical or illegal," says Gordon Goetz, president and CEO of Goetz Manderley, a community association management company based in Santa Maria, Calif., that manages 210 associations totaling 17,000 homes in California's San Louis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Kern counties.
Also remember that in most cases, you've hired a management company, not a manager. "Boards need to understand that the contract is between the management company and the association, not the manager," adds Goetz. "They need to take that refusal to the manager's supervisor or the company's principal and discuss what that manager is doing and not doing for the association. The board is fully within its rights to request another representative. Then it's up to the management company to take action with the individual manager."
Direct contact is much more effective than an email complaint, adds Jeff Vinzani, a partner at the Duggan Vinzani law firm in Charleston, S.C., who represents associations. "To me, writing emails citing a lack of performance means these boards either like what the manager's doing and are just complaining, or they don't want to put the manager into default because they like most of what the manager's doing," he explains.
"So these boards need to determine if they like the company and just want to have a meeting to tell them they're falling down on the job, or is it enough dissatisfaction that the board should send the company notice of default," Vinzani adds. "That doesn't always mean the contract is over. But it puts the management company on notice, and the company might reallocate its resources to better meet the HOA's needs."
When you've attempted to talk out the problem and there's been no resolution, it's time to review your contract to determine your remedies. Find out more by reading our new article, What to Do When Your HOA's Manager Is Falling Down on the Job.
P.S. You also may want to download our special report, HOA Management Companies: A Practical Guide for Homeowners Association Boards.