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HOA: How to Interview Property Management Companies

Posted by sonrise on September 11, 2017
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Property management companies contract with homeowner associations to maintain the buildings and grounds of the condominium or housing area. The actual areas to be managed will determine the responsibilities of the property managers.

The property management company is there to serve the homeowners and help them when necessary. There are several questions HOA board members should ask prospective management companies.

HOA: How to interview property management companies

How do you handle emergency requests from homeowners?

This is important because emergencies do happen and homeowners will expect a timely response. Examples include a plumbing, gas or roof leak, the rain gutters becoming too full of leaves and debris to handle water runoff or snow collapsing a carport structure. Someone needs to be on call 24/7 to handle emergencies in order for the property to be well managed.

What preventive maintenance measures will be put into place to reduce unexpected problems?

Property management companies should have a staff or trusted contractor that provides grounds maintenance. Maintenance typically includes landscaping and other work as needed such as washing exterior windows and re-painting patio railing. It may include keeping pathways clear, cleaning a community swimming pool or sports facilities such as tennis courts. Walls, fences, pocket parks and gates need occasional maintenance.

Inspections and maintenance of roofs and rain gutters are necessary. Gutters need to be clean and free of debris; they will typically be cleaned in the fall when leaves fall from trees and create buildup. Moss treatment prevents premature aging of roofs and cracked or broken roof shingles and tiles observed while doing moss treatment may need replacing.

A condominium building with interior units may need maintenance such as cleaning a lobby. Interior cleaning is usually required in common areas, especially when a community club house is part is part of the HOA. The building’s heating and air conditioning system should be checked regularly.

What type of financial services are offered by the property management company?

Property management companies usually collect homeowner’s dues on behalf of the HOA. As part of this service their team may handle late notices and late fees. The property management company also helps the HOA set their annual budget which should include maintenance and contingency funds. The company must have a good reputation and they should be insured and bonded. They must present monthly statements to the board and be open to an independent audit at any time. They should have receipts and documentation for all expenses including a clear breakdown of their own fees.

What vendors does the property management firm have relationships with and are there any conflicts of interest?

Property managements companies may contract with private security companies to patrol the grounds or lobby. The HOA board needs detailed information about private security personnel such as how background checks are handled.

Property managers often contract with roofing specialists, plumbers, cleaning services and gardeners, among other vendors. The company should be willing to take bids from contractors for routine maintenance and major repair services to ensure that they are passing on the best value to HOA boards.

Businesses affiliations of property management companies must be disclosed. This includes any commissions they receive from outside contractors and family members hired for work.

What maintenance procedures will remain the responsibility of homeowners?

Property management companies that take care of condominiums and apartment communities are often responsible for the buildings and grounds. A company managing a housing development may only be responsible for maintenance of common areas including small parks and nature trails.

Homeowners in detached houses are usually responsible for keeping their homes and private yards in good condition (sometimes only the back yard). This includes lawn and garden maintenance in keeping with the codes covenants and restrictions (CCR’s). They may be responsible to call their own plumber or roofing contractor. Attached townhouses and condominiums usually work with property management companies for electricians or plumbers.

All homeowners associations working with property management companies should have a list of the requirements they need from the company. It is the job of HOA boards to find property management companies that will provide the best service for their needs by asking relevant questions.

Son-Rise Property Management has been serving the property management needs of Bellingham and Whatcom County since 1996. Contact us today to see how we can help you find a rental property for your family or manage your rental properties.

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