For daily matters, manager answers to board's representative
Q: I live in an HOA that has an on-site manager. When issues arise, the manager is defensive and very combative. I would like to know who is responsible for the supervision and who evaluates the work ethics. Is the manager accountable to the homeowners? Please advise the chain of command and if the owners are the boss and how we approach issues.
A: A basic rule of management and employees is that no person can have two or more supervisors or bosses. I have often said that to be an association manager is one of the loneliest jobs. A manager should not make friends with the members, the board members or the employees. This may result in confusion as to who directs or supervises the manager.
The board of directors is the supervising body, however the manager cannot take orders from five or seven or more directors as individuals. This results in the board as a majority approving the work, schedule, duties and a host of other operations of the manager. I call it an operational policy. In addition, the board should appoint one person to have day-to-day supervision and in most associations that would be the president. Members often look at the manager as their personal problem solver when in fact the problems that involve the association are really the board of directors' responsibility.
You speak of the manager being defensive. Ninety-nine percent of all contacts with the manager are to solve problems. Sometimes the manager does not have the power or right to provide a satisfactory answer to your problem. Sometimes members do not like the answer and become aggressive. When was the last time any owner or director told the manager they did a great job? Burnout for managers is fast; they rarely last longer than three years.
A good manager understands their position with the members and the board of directors as well as the employees. If you do not like what you see in your manager, write the board of directors with specifics of your problems.
Association should be getting notice of foreclosures
Q: One of the board members is proposing that our manager check for foreclosure sales of any units in our community and go to the courthouse to bid on the unit for the association to purchase. I believe this is not in the scope of duties for a manager. This board member also is suggesting that the manager lease the unit after it is purchased and collect the rent, to be deposited in our reserve account. I think there is so much wrong with these proposals. Don't you need a real estate license to perform these functions?
A: If the manager or management company has a contract, the answer should be included in that contract or a way to modify the duties would be listed. If there is no contract, then the board must approve the additional duties of the manager's job description. As for renting, as long as the manager does not receive additional compensation, they do not need a real estate license. But this opens up other liabilities that the association and the manager may assume.
I am confused as to why the association is not being apprised of such foreclosures. If a bank starts foreclosure on a property in the community, the association should have received some legal notice and the matter should be forwarded to the association attorney. If not, then you need to find out why you are not being notified.
It is time for your association attorney to take action and verify that your records are properly filed with the state and that the registered agent is not shirking his/her duties. Your registered agent should receive all communications about this situation and take appropriate action.
That opens up the second issue: If the owner is delinquent, why has the board not taken collection procedures before the bank has started their legal actions? Waiting for banks to foreclose is a bad policy as it really will increase the loss of uncollected fees. It appears that the board is lacking some operational procedures.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115. Please include your name and city.