For many, HOA's are a "seen but not heard" element of home ownership. Things work, dues are reasonable and neighbors get along with one another. A good HOA Management Company handles all the critical aspects of the community, and the Board acts responsibly.
However, things can go awry. And when they do, the lack of a good HOA manager can mean the difference between minor frustrations and full-blown disaster. Sometimes, even the best management agencies will have difficulty satisfying all Board members and homeowners.
This is the single biggest complaint about ineffective HOA managers. Companies that submit contact reports as part of their contractual responsibilities tend to perform better since there is a verifiable record of all contacts made and responses given.
These types of issues generally find their way to Board Members and are a major irritant. Keeping a written record that includes their ultimate resolution is a must-have from an HOA services firm.
Given the extensive people contact and the unreasonableness of some homeowners, it's important that the manager be fair, firm and unbiased to avoid escalation of issues. Diplomacy and consistent communication is a must.
Maintenance issues, large or small, reflect on the entire community.
Using low-quality or unscrupulous vendors is the quickest way to lose confidence in the Board and the associated management company.
When checking references for a new HOA management company make sure you ask about the prospective company's performance in the areas mentioned above. The CAI (Community Associations Institute) has a standard Code of Ethics that can be useful guide in vetting candidates as well.
Proper vetting of several competent management companies can help to avoid many of the pitfalls mentioned above. Make sure you take the time to properly screen and challenge your prospective service provider to avoid the painful process of replacing an unsatisfactory manager.