Maintenance, repairs, and improvements are a necessary part of managing any property investment.
But when something needs to be done, it can be frustrating when you do not know who is responsible for getting the job done. Is it the responsibility of the HOA, the individual condo owner, or the property management company?
To help with getting clarity over who is responsible for what, we put together an overview of condo ownership structure, responsibilities for board members, and property management companies that also includes why working as a team with your property management company is ideal.
Condo Ownership: Who’s Involved in Managing a Property?
Condominium properties operate on shared ownership of common areas and facilities in a building, and various parties are involved in looking after these shared spaces.
When it comes to understanding the roles and responsibilities of shared property ownership, here are the key players:
Individual Condo Owners
Condo units are usually owned by individuals, families, or groups. Unit ownership gives the owner the right to occupy and use the unit, subject to the terms of the condominium association’s governing documents.
Condominium Association or HOA
The condominium association, or HOA, is the overarching organization that manages and maintains a condo complex’s common areas. This may include hallways, elevators, lobbies, and parking areas, and it may also include shared structural items like the roof, windows, or the building’s foundation.
Board of Directors
Furthermore, condo associations are run by a board of directors, often composed of condo owners. The board is responsible for making condo management-related decisions, including the rules and regulations that govern the use of the common areas and facilities.
The board may also manage the HOA’s finances, hire contractors to do work, and enforce condo policies.
Property Management Companies
Board members may be involved in the strategic planning for improving shared spaces or managing the day-to-day operations with the property managers.
The property manager is responsible for carrying out the condo’s day-to-day operations on behalf of the board of directors. Tasks may include overseeing maintenance, minor or major repairs, financial management, and overseeing contractors and vendors.
What is the HOA Board Responsible For?
The HOA Board is in charge of managing and maintaining a condo building. The HOA Board of Directors is a group of individual condo owners who are elected to manage the day-to-day operations of the building, ensuring that the community is well-maintained, financially sound, and harmonious.
Since most board members usually live in the building, they tend to be more invested in the care provided for it. They can strategize improvements, guidelines, and more to ensure that the condominium fees don’t grow too high while maintaining standards.
The HOA board members can choose to hire a property management firm, which is a group of professionals who are well-suited to support this task. However, at the end of the day, the HOA board members must be the ones to ensure that their duties are upheld.
Think of the HOA as representing the condo developers. They must set and enforce condo rules (i.e., pet policies, noise restrictions, and parking rules), set annual budgets, collect HOA fees, direct common area maintenance, resolve resident or association disputes, and communicate with the residents about policies or events. The HOA board can hand off certain tasks to a property manager and work together with them to ensure their building is well-cared for.
What is a Property Management Company Responsible For?
Property management companies are hired by HOAs and condo owners to provide a range of services to both commercial and residential properties. Property managers are dedicated to handling maintenance items efficiently, hiring high-quality contractors to work on maintenance or large building projects, and administrative tasks like overseeing the building’s budget.
Property management is invaluable for any HOA that needs reliable, expert support. As they oversee the day-to-day operations of a property, they can also help owners and developers maximize their property investments by reducing expenses, and increasing unit values through property improvements.
Some of the services they can provide to support an HOA include:
- Collecting property and HOA fees
- Coordinating maintenance and repairs
- Regularly inspecting the property
- Responding to condo owner inquiries
- Shopping utility contracts to ensure competitive rates
- Managing the property’s budgets and financial reports
- Ensuring compliance with local and federal regulations
- Negotiating with vendors and contractors to provide landscaping, cleaning, and maintenance services
4 Tips for Delegating Responsibilities Between Board Members and Property Management
While the condo association, and any property management companies they hire, will delegate different roles, they often work as a team. Here are some tips to help HOAs work more closely and comfortably with their property management company:
1. Acknowledge Overlapping Responsibilities and Establish Who Does What
A very important task as an HOA board member is figuring out who does what. Since it is the responsibility of the HOA to make sure their property is cared for, this is of the utmost importance.
It is helpful to start from a place of shared responsibilities. For example, the HOA may be in charge of identifying the common maintenance tasks, or the due date for fees, but the property manager may be in charge of following through on all those items once directed by the board.
As an HOA board member, be sure to consider this when planning the rules, regulations, and maintenance schedules for your building at your annual meeting. If new board members join, book time to communicate and coordinate on who is doing what.
2. Proactively Communicate If You Are Unsure About Existing Roles
Overall, the best working relationships between HOAs and property management companies are those that do not need meet too often. This means that the processes put in place are working smoothly and issues are not arising.
However, this is not always the case. Even if you thought that the roles were clearly defined, do not hesitate to reach out to your property management company to confirm the roles, especially if it is about a specific project coming up.
3. Do Not Wait for the Job to Go Undone
Perhaps you have already experienced this before. But, if you notice that a project is not being started (or completed), then this may be a communication misstep. It may mean that the property management firm is waiting on additional direction from the board, or that the priority of the project was not initially communicated clearly. It is normal for this type of mishap to happen, but it is worse if the issue is unresolved, the job drags on, and your building’s residents are unhappy.
If you notice this happening, do not wait for the job to go undone. Reach out to the property manager to confirm their understanding of the role. If there is uncertainty about the plan for execution on either end, a quick meeting should be organized to reassess the project details and the associated plan to ensure communication and expectations are clear along the way.
There is no need to let something fall into disrepair when a quick email or phone call can correct it.
4. Remember That Your Property Manager is There to Help You, So Start Building a Good Relationship
For the best living experience for all condo residents, it is important to establish a good working relationship between the HOA and the property management company. Understanding who is responsible for what and how to delegate these responsibilities properly can make all the difference.
As an HOA, you hired the management company to help you out. It is best to work together as a team. Each side has responsibilities, and they all work together to create a better living environment for all living on the property.
Following the tips above and hiring a proactive, professional property management company like Hales Property Management can reduce stress and help ensure the property remains a safe and joyful place to live.
Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you and your Chicago building!