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- Finding the right personality to fit a particular community can be a challenging and time-consuming task.
- Tanoa Lynne Poirier wrote “365 Tips for Community Association Managers, Property Managers and Property Owners.”
- She shares six tips for navigating the rocky shoals of property management.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” That’s a quote from author Toni Morrison … and the reason why I wrote “365 Tips for Community Association Managers, Property Managers and Property Owners.”
When I started in the industry, I did not realize the magnitude of the responsibility. As a licensed real estate broker, I had worked with community association managers, property managers (in the rental market) and owners.
I had a general grasp of their duties, but clearly not the whole picture.
The demands on the manager are enormous. Managers are required to be part amateur psychologist, accountant, landscaper, repairmen, police, purchasing and procurement agent, adviser, mediator, inspector, comforter, complaint department, encourager and counselor!
Finding the right personality to fit a particular community can be a challenging and time-consuming task. Fortunately, there are many capable and willing individuals who have accepted the challenge.
Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada and Virginia have adopted licensing or certification requirements for community association managers. These tests generally instruct licensees on the particular state statutes and chapters governing the community (depending upon how the corporation is organized).
These proficiency tests do not provide the licensee with instruction on how to apply their knowledge in real-world situations.
Some of my top tips for navigating the rocky shoals for new and experienced property managers are:
1. Read the governing documents. Once you are assigned to a property, one of the first tasks should be to read the association governing documents! You need not commit them to memory, but you should read them all (including the Plat Plan and Articles of Incorporation).
Go online and review the public records to make sure you have all of the recorded amendments. A great suggestion is to add a printable self-adhesive tab to the pages that you will refer to regularly (for example, annual meeting dates, quorum requirements, association responsibility for maintenance repair and replacements, owner’s responsibility and architectural alterations rules).
Get out your favorite colored highlighter (I like pink) and self-adhesive tabs and start underlining, highlighting and adding labeled tabs to important pages you will refer to again and again.
2. Manage assessments and monitor delinquencies. If you think of the association as a government and the boards as the elected government officials, consider the maintenance dues as the taxes for operating the government. The association budget for operations (including reserves) is based on the revenue or maintenance payments collected monthly or quarterly.
You must carefully monitor the operating funds. Residents who fail to pay their maintenance make it difficult to pay the bills. There are remedies for enforcement, but they incur legal fees.
If possible, start with a reminder courtesy phone call followed up by a letter or email (with preauthorization). Encourage your board to work with the unit owners to get the funds on an installment basis. Just get the funds into the operating account.
Always be respectful when you speak to unit owners about this sensitive issue. It can quickly escalate into a difficult and volatile situation.
3. Consistency counts. Resist the temptation to bend the rules for residents you feel an affinity toward and the temptation to take a hard line with people with whom you don’t see eye to eye. Endeavor to be consistent when applying the rules, dealing with vendors, enforcing contracts, and dealing with the board of directors and committee members.
You will save yourself a great deal of aggravation and any threats to your license.
4. Learn to delegate. Community associations have many moving parts. Even the best managers cannot keep track of everything all the time. You must learn to trust and delegate responsibilities and tasks to your staff.
When you try to do everything yourself (either because you have trust issues or because it just seems easier than explaining what you need), you will burn out, drop out or fall out. You cannot do it all by yourself. Trust that you have selected great people to work with you, and allow them to assist you.
Learn to let go, and let them do it. People will pleasantly surprise you.
5. Carve out family time. Is your family taking a second or third place in your list of priorities? Is scheduling the landscape meeting or a meeting with the board president your most important priority?
Wrong order! Schedule a date with your spouse or plan a family outing for this coming weekend. Refocus on what is really important. When this job is over, they’ll still be there.
6. Breathe. Sound simple? When the day gets chaotic and feels out of control, take a moment and breathe. Center yourself and just concentrate on breathing. You’ll be amazed at how calm and centered it will make you. Breathe.
There are many more tips in store for you in the book. If just one person is helped by these tips, I will feel extremely grateful. Enjoy the journey!
Tanoa Lynne Poirier is the author of “365 Tips for Community Association Managers, Property Managers and Property Owners,” a real estate broker-owner, property management company manager-owner and board member for a community association in South Florida.