Working with an HOA management company is supposed to make life better for everyone. It ensures that HOA Board members are well-supported in their work, and given the resources they need to build a thriving community. Meanwhile, HOA management companies can provide homeowners with a range of benefits, including access to 24-7 maintenance lines. Ideally, hiring an HOA management company is a win for everyone.
But what happens when you find that your property management company just isn’t a good fit? Or worse, that they aren’t able to do what you need them to do? In these scenarios, it may be prudent for the HOA board members to discuss hiring a new management company.
But how can you be sure when the time has come for switching HOA management companies? What are the common warning signs and red flags? And what’s the actual process for bringing in a new HOA management company? In this post, we’ll discuss each of these topics and then some.
Signs You Need a New HOA Management Company
Before we discuss how to change HOA management company, let’s note some of the common signs that your current company isn’t serving you the way they should. Here are a few of the most common red flags.
1) Your HOA management company is providing suboptimal service.
Low-quality service is one of the main reasons to change your management company. Keep in mind that, when you hire an HOA management company, you are relying on their expertise in all things related to community management, including financial and legal matters. If your current HOA management company cannot answer basic questions, or if they make sloppy errors that create problems down the road, that’s how you know it’s time to make a change.
2) Your management company doesn’t communicate well.
When it comes to selecting an HOA management company, communication is absolutely critical. After all, your community manager is tasked with regularly communicating to the Board, as well as facilitating relationships with vendors. And, your HOA management professional may also play an important role in guiding communications with homeowners.
The bottom line: If your manager is slow to respond to your emails, never answers the phone when you call, or is otherwise non-communicative, that’s a perfectly good reason to start looking around for a new HOA management company.
3) Your management company cannot complete any projects.
When you hire a management company, the expectation is that they will help you keep your community running smoothly. This will mean tackling some projects big and small, whether that is replacing street lights or fixing the roof of a common area.
Hopefully, you can point to some real, concrete results your management company has achieved. But if they fail to complete projects, whether due to incompetence or poor project management abilities, then there’s no reason to keep them on your payroll. Consider this a prime opportunity to browse alternative HOA management companies.
4) Your HOA management company is charging you surprise fees or hidden costs.
HOA management companies are not charities. They are for-profit companies, and they need to be compensated for their services. As such, when you hire a new management company, you will be asked to sign a contract, which should thoroughly outline all the services rendered and the rate you will pay.
Problems arise when the HOA management firm begins charging you fees that are not mentioned anywhere in the contract. These surprise fees can quickly erode trust between the management company and the Board. They may also signal that it’s time to make a change.
5) Your HOA management team is inconsistent about enforcing your community’s rules.
One of the most essential tasks of the HOA management team is to ensure that all of the rules and bylaws are properly enforced, fairly and consistently.
HOA selective enforcement is the term used when HOA regulations are enforced in a biased or inconsistent way. When selective enforcement occurs, it can lead to a lot of tension within the community, and potentially even lead to a legal challenge to your Association.
It also shows that your management company is not doing its job properly. You may wish to look around for a new HOA management team.
6) You get a lot of complaints from your residents.
As we said from the outset, the goal of hiring HOA management companies is to make life better for everyone. Once you have the right HOA management team in place, everything should run a bit smoother, and the folks who live in your HOA should be happier.
So what does it mean when you continue to receive homeowner complaints? If you get regular complaints from unhappy homeowners, that should make you pause and wonder whether your HOA management team is performing their job properly.
7) Life isn’t any easier for HOA Board members.
Running a homeowners association is a bit of an undertaking, and it requires a lot of work. For HOA Board members, this work can be overwhelming. One of the primary reasons to hire a management company is to relieve some of the burden.
As such, your Board members should all be pleased to have a management company working on their behalf. But if your HOA management team isn’t actually making things any easier, then what’s the point of keeping them around?
8) Your HOA isn’t in a good place financially.
Ultimately, your HOA is a business, and the job of your HOA management team is to make certain that the business is run well.
If the business side of the HOA is being neglected, that’s a huge red flag. Specifically, be on the lookout for financial losses and reduced profits, both of which reveal the need for a new HOA management company.
How to Change HOA Management Company: The Process
We’ve covered some of the reasons why you might want to seek a new HOA management company. Now, let’s get into the process of doing so. Once your HOA Board decides to make a change, what are the next steps in the process?
6 Steps for Changing Your HOA Management Team
To change HOA management companies, here are a few steps we recommend.
- Review your current management contracts. Once the Board members agree to change the HOA management company, the first thing you should do is get out the contract you have with the current management team, and carefully review the terms. Specifically look to see when the contract expires, and whether or not there is an auto-renewal clause. In some cases, the simplest thing may be to just wait out the contract; in other words, let the contract expire, then go about hiring a new HOA management company.
- Provide notice to your current homeowners association management company. Also note that, if you decide to change your HOA management team, you may be required to provide notice to the current company. The specifics should be outlined in your service agreement, but the industry norm is 60 to 90 days.
- Cancel early (if need be). Of course, you may not wish to wait until the current management contract expires. If that’s the case, then you should scan the contract for a cancellation policy. Note that, if you choose to cancel before the management contract expires, you may still owe notice. And, you may also have to pay a fee to the current HOA management team.
- Talk with your HOA attorney. You may wish to consult with your HOA attorney before you change management companies. The lawyer will be able to review both the current contract as well as the new contract you sign, ensuring that all of the legal bases are covered.
- Communicate with your HOA. When you change HOA management companies, it’s important to keep homeowners in the loop. Send out communications about the change in community manager, provide a basis overview of why you decided to switch HOA management companies, and let homeowners know what they can expect from the next steps. Also invite them to come to you with any questions.
- Begin the search for a new community manager. We’ll provide more specific instructions in a later section, but for now, we’ll just note that when you switch HOA management companies, you won’t want to waste time searching for a new homeowners association management company.
Searching for a New HOA Management Team
Of course, dismissing your current HOA management team is just part of the equation. You will also need to commence a search for a new HOA management firm.
This is an undertaking that may benefit from the input of your homeowners. Feel free to poll your current residents, asking them what they liked and disliked about the previous community manager, and also assessing their priorities when it comes to community management.
Again, you can also consult with your HOA lawyer. Chances are, the attorney knows most of the major HOA managers in town, and can point you toward a trustworthy firm that meets your needs.
You’ll seldom benefit from simply hiring the first HOA company you come across. Instead, take the time to consider multiple candidates. Interview them, ask them to submit proposals, and negotiate as you see fit. This is a big decision, and not something you’ll want to rush.
What to Look for When Seeking a New Community Management Company
As for what you should look for in your new manager, here are a few points to consider.
- Look for a management company that is properly licensed and/or certified. Seeking a qualified, experienced management team can help you avoid some of the issues you had with the previous company.
- Ask about vendor relations. One of the primary benefits of hiring a professional HOA management company is that they will bring you inroads to local vendors. Be sure you inquire in advance about the vendor relations they have, and how these relations can benefit your community.
- Pay attention to communication style. As we noted above, one of the main functions of an HOA manager is to communicate well. As you interview different candidates, pay special attention to how well they communicate with you. If you don’t like the level of customer service you receive, that’s reason enough to look elsewhere.
- Ask for references. A good HOA management team should have a long list of clients who are ready to sing their praises. Before hiring a company, ask for a few references you can call. Be wary of any HOA manager who cannot offer these references.
- Check availability. A good HOA manager should be accessible. You should be able to depend on them to answer questions or give feedback when you really need it. Be sure to ask how you can contact your HOA manager, and what kind of responsiveness you should expect.
- Review service needs. Always ask the HOA management team what kinds of services they offer, ensuring they align with your own needs. For instance, you might ask about document upkeep, bookkeeping, help planning and running meetings, etc.
These are just a few of the qualities to prioritize when seeking a new HOA manager, but again: You can get further suggestions by talking with another HOA Board member, and with the members of your community.
Get HOA Management Assistance from Kuester Management Group
If you’re looking for a new HOA management team that will go above and beyond with exemplary service, then reach out to Kuester Management Group. We are proud to provide HOA management services in Charlotte, NC, as well as HOA management services in the Myrtle Beach area.
For decades, we have been one of the most trusted HOA vendors in the Carolinas. Homeowners and Board members know they can count on us to provide responsive service and a full breadth of HOA expertise. Our services encompass everything from 24/7 emergency maintenance to vendor procurement and oversight.
We would love to tell you more about our services, and to guide you through a transition. To find out more about the services we offer to HOA management clients in the Carolinas, reach out to Kuester Management Group at your next opportunity.