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Subject: Controlling Heavy-handed Mgmt Company
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BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:9


07/17/2021 9:17 AM  
Hello. I’m sorry this is rather long. I live in a Texas neighborhood of 600+ single family homes. I was elected to my neighborhood’s 5-person ROA Board a month ago. Several years ago, the ROA Board hired a management company (call them AMCo) to assist in running the neighborhood.

For the past year+, AMCo has been “insensitive” about handing out CCR violations. A common question on our unofficial neighborhood FB group is “I need to do some yard work. How can I avoid getting a violation notice?” The notices are mostly “courtesy notices”, but they aren’t especially courteous, and they can easily escalate to fines. And AMCo makes too-frequent mistakes, citing violations that aren’t really violations, sending a 3rd notice when there was no 2nd notice, trivial “please edge your lawn” violations that don’t do much beyond raise people’s blood pressure.

This situation may or may not seem like a big deal - but I was elected to the Board because I promised to try and reign AMCo in. I guess I have to ask you to believe me when I say that the neighborhood is growing increasingly unhappy over this stuffΏ].

Here’s where I’m having problems: the other Board members say that they recognize the issue, but they don’t seem to really want to do anything about it.

For example: AMCo patrols the neighborhood twice a month. The Board gets a report of the violations with pictures and details. This latest report listed ~70 violations, most of which were of the trivial “please edge your lawn” variety. However, the Board is *extremely* hesitant about asking AMCo to remove violations. One Board member has stated that we should ask AMCo to not send us the violations report at all and just let AMCo do whatever they want.

I learned that the violation patrols are scheduled. So I asked: why don’t we tell people the schedule? I mean, we just want to keep the neighborhood looking nice, right? There’s no benefit to keeping it all a secret, is there? I was told “notice of the drives should not be given since that would lead to people only taking care of their exteriors near the time of the drive instead of on a more regular basis.”

I’d like to be clear: I understand that some violations need to be sent out: extremely neglected yards, bushes and trees that obstruct the sidewalk, hazards, etc. But many / most of the violations are trivial stuff like “trash bins at curb one hour early” (when, in fact, there were no established rules about putting out trash bins).

The Board seems extremely paranoid about anything that might be construed as “selective enforcement”. I’m not certain how realistic their fears are. If the Board uses reasonable judgement to cull obviously trivial violations, is that a significant risk?

A thought I had: could we limit each patrol to a maximum of (say) 30 violations?

Again, I’m sorry this is so long. And despite my best efforts, it probably reads like a rant. I really just want my neighborhood to be a nice place where people don’t live in fear of the management company. Any advice would be most appreciated.

One last thing: our contract with AMCo is up for renewal at the end of the year. If anyone has had experience in leveraging a property management company to use a less-heavy hand, I’d love to hear about it. AMCo handles most things quite well - it’s just these violations that are a problem.

Thank you.

Bill

Ώ] if it matters the vote was 150 to 50. I won’t call it a “landslide”, but it was unusually high turnout, and I think I’m the only person *ever* to run for the Board on an issue (Ie, control AMCo violations).
AugustinD


Posts:961


07/17/2021 9:33 AM  
Posted By BillD16 on 07/17/2021 9:17 AM

This situation may or may not seem like a big deal - but I was elected to the Board because I promised to try and reign AMCo in. I guess I have to ask you to believe me when I say that the neighborhood is growing increasingly unhappy over this stuffΏ].

Here’s where I’m having problems: the other Board members say that they recognize the issue, but they don’t seem to really want to do anything about it.
...
However, the Board is *extremely* hesitant about asking AMCo to remove violations. One Board member has stated that we should ask AMCo to not send us the violations report at all and just let AMCo do whatever they want.

...

The Board seems extremely paranoid about anything that might be construed as “selective enforcement”. I’m not certain how realistic their fears are. If the Board uses reasonable judgement to cull obviously trivial violations, is that a significant risk?
I advise: Keep reading at this forum. Soon you will see the many posts indicating directors who are in the exact same place as you are. Namely: As long as you are unable to persuade a board majority to see things as you do, you are unlikely to get anywhere.

I think your best bet would be to recruit others who feel as you do to run for the board at the next election.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11180


07/17/2021 9:37 AM  
Bill

The MC is hired by, and can be fired by the BOD. It seems to me that your BOD and MC have got to agree what constitutes a violation and set up a procedure to handle such. As an example: Is or is not poor edging considered a violation?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2154


07/17/2021 9:50 AM  
Question: is it true that the board has never sat down with the property manager and discussed expectations? Ultimately, the PM is acting for the board and it's the board's responsibility to make sure the PM is doing their job properly.

If I were dealing with a similar issue, I'd start with fact finding:

* Read up on best practices so that I know what I should be aiming at - there's probably a lot on the web.

* Have a list of *verified* complaints from owners, keeping in mind that nobody likes receiving violation notices and that social media grandstanding is very common. (Also keep in mind that social media can cause minor issues to blow up into major ones with no basis in fact. So I'd take the perception that "the whole community is up in arms" with a grain of salt until you've satisfied yourself that there is truly something there.)

* Talk to your PM and get their perspective. If your PM is otherwise capable and professional, they may have some insights that the board doesn't have and you should listen to them. If the PM's violation processes have been haphazard, figure out why: lack of organizational skills, inadequate software to manage the process, etc.

Once you're finished with the fact finding, the board and PM should create written procedures for how to handle violations. I'm a big fan of checklists, since they're very helpful for making sure things are done in the proper order and no steps are missed. And they can provide a written record to evaluate performance (and refute unfair accusations against the PM, and yes, these do happen).

Ultimately, though, the board is responsible for what happens in your community. If this particular PM is not that capable, it may be time to look for a new one.
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:9


07/17/2021 10:59 AM  
First, thank you to everyone who responded!

Posted By CathyA3 on 07/17/2021 9:50 AM
Question: is it true that the board has never sat down with the property manager and discussed expectations?


That’s an interesting point. Because of circumstances, no, I don’t believe anyone on the Board has ever discussed expectations with the PM. It’s definitely something to consider. It won’t be easy, though. And it will be less easy getting the Board to agree on what violations are important, checklists, etc. But I’m not looking for a magical solution.

Here’s a thing, though: I’m retired and have a lot more time to spend on this stuff than most members of the Board. Aside from research and reading, is there any other way I can leverage my time? Again, I’m not seeking magic. But perhaps there are non-obvious strategies I should consider?

(I confess it strikes me as curious that the various Board members are quick to mention how little time they have. Why are you on the Board, then?)


* Have a list of *verified* complaints from owners, keeping in mind that nobody likes receiving violation notices and that social media grandstanding is very common. (Also keep in mind that social media can cause minor issues to blow up into major ones with no basis in fact. So I'd take the perception that "the whole community is up in arms" with a grain of salt until you've satisfied yourself that there is truly something there.)


I did compile a list complaints - which was ignored by the Board, which is one of the reasons I ran. But I totally get how it can be difficult to ‘read’ an entire neighborhood. All I can say is that I did what due diligence I could, and I believe there’s a legitimate issue here.

Again, thank you for responding.

Bill
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:9


07/17/2021 11:04 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/17/2021 9:33 AM

advise: Keep reading at this forum. Soon you will see the many posts indicating directors who are in the exact same place as you are. Namely: As long as you are unable to persuade a board majority to see things as you do, you are unlikely to get anywhere.

I think your best bet would be to recruit others who feel as you do to run for the board at the next election.





Thanks. I hope it doesn’t come to that - but yeah, I get your point.

Bill
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:923


07/17/2021 11:33 AM  
Everything the management company does is on behalf of the board. In other words, they should do nothing that the board does not sanction. The board has total control and should not abdicate it to the management company.

You do not have to use leverage if you want the management company to be less heavy-handed, you simply instruct them to do things the way the board wants them to be done. As long as it is not illegal or unethical they should have no problem.

I know it is easy to just let the management company do as they please but the board is ultimately responsible for anything they do.
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:646


07/17/2021 11:43 AM  
"However, the Board is *extremely* hesitant about asking AMCo to remove violations. One Board member has stated that we should ask AMCo to not send us the violations report at all and just let AMCo do whatever they want."

For me this translates into the board has no spine and prefers to bury their head in the sand because they don't like conflict. Until the board recognizes that they are the ones that manage the PM company I honestly don't have a suggestion other then recruit new blood for the board if possible.
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:9


07/17/2021 11:55 AM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/17/2021 11:43 AM
"However, the Board is *extremely* hesitant about asking AMCo to remove violations. One Board member has stated that we should ask AMCo to not send us the violations report at all and just let AMCo do whatever they want."

For me this translates into the board has no spine and prefers to bury their head in the sand because they don't like conflict. Until the board recognizes that they are the ones that manage the PM company I honestly don't have a suggestion other then recruit new blood for the board if possible.



Thank you, JohnT38 (and you, too, BenA2).

It pains me, but - yes. I’m not sure if it is conflict avoidance or just ‘going with the flow’ because it’s easy. Or what.

Bill
MichaelS56
(Minnesota)

Posts:205


07/18/2021 1:07 PM  
Break up the HOA into smaller groups. Five Board members attempting to dal with the issues of 600 plus units, oh my goodness. Get more Boards!
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