Can a homeowner be an HOA manager without the association running into problems? While it may seem like an easy job, an HOA manager juggles several different responsibilities. And not all associations want the potential conflict of interest that may arise from a homeowner-slash-manager.
Can a Homeowner Be an HOA Manager?
Homeowners associations come in all shapes and sizes. Some only have a few units with less than 50 owners, while others have several hundred owners, even going up to the thousands. Regardless of the size of a community, though, they all share one thing in common — an HOA board.
The HOA board manages the entire association, from the smallest of details to larger-scale projects. Board members have a fiduciary duty to do what’s best for the community, but the workload isn’t always manageable. The board has to balance a multitude of responsibilities, including but not limited to dues collection, rule enforcement, vendor management, budget preparation, legal compliance, and resident communication. Because the job can be overwhelming, many associations end up hiring an HOA manager.
An HOA manager shoulders most of the board’s day-to-day work, leaving the board to make more important decisions. More often than not, professionally managed communities also receive the help of back-office personnel who take care of all the administrative work. While it doesn’t happen frequently, it’s possible that an association may run into a situation where their HOA manager is a homeowner in the community. However, a homeowner as an HOA manager does have certain implications.
For Self-Managed Homeowners Associations
Self-managed associations are already managed solely by the HOA board. In this case, there would be no opening or need for an HOA manager. However, even a self-managed board might want to assign a volunteer homeowner to act as a manager. This volunteer would assume the role of a community manager, though they will likely receive no compensation since they are a volunteer (similar to board members).
Additionally, since it’s still considered volunteer work, there is no telling if the homeowner can add anything of value to the community’s operations. The board already runs the community, after all. If the homeowner really wishes to help out, they can do so by volunteering for committees or running for a position on the board themselves. If the board finds that they lack officers, it is worth exploring amending the bylaws to allow for another position on the board to open up.
For Professionally Managed Homeowners Associations
Professionally managed homeowners associations, on the other hand, have no use for a volunteer manager. This is because the association already employs a management company or manager to do the work.
It is unwise for an HOA to insist on having a homeowner as a volunteer manager in this scenario. The existing professional manager or management company likely already has its own system or way of doing things. A difference in opinion or management style will only result in a clash between the homeowner and the manager.
Possible Conflict of Interest in HOA
What if a homeowner in the community already has a career as an HOA manager? Would the board be right to employ them or their management company? After all, it could result in cost savings for the association.
This is a slippery slope, though, as it opens the HOA up to a conflict of interest. The same homeowner/manager may prioritize issues that matter to them personally. They may also favor resolutions that suit their own agenda or benefit their neighbors or friends. It is also much easier for them to circumvent certain procedures, giving them an opportunity to break the rules without penalty.
Refer to the HOA’s Governing Documents
Beyond examining your individual circumstance, it is imperative that your board refers to the association’s governing documents. Your bylaws and CC&Rs may contain language that can speak to this specific problem. In certain instances, you may also need to secure the agreement of other homeowners.
Regardless of the situation, though, board members must exercise caution and restraint. Study the possible pros and cons of having a homeowner be an HOA manager for the community. If the cons outweigh the pros — even if it’s just a single con that carries a heavier weight than the many pros — then perhaps it’s best to simply hire a professional outside of the association.
Skills of an HOA Manager
There are certain qualities and skills that only an effective HOA manager possesses. When looking for the right candidate, make sure to consider the following:
- A good HOA manager is a natural leader. They must be confident in their decisions yet still open-minded to ideas.
- Professionalism is utterly important. An HOA manager should approach everything with a calm and professional demeanor. No bias or favoritism is allowed.
- A good HOA manager knows how to communicate well. They use the tools available to them to keep people in the loop.
- Not all associations are made equal. An effective manager should have a deep understanding of their community’s bylaws, covenants, and rules. They must also be familiar with the laws that apply to associations.
- An HOA manager should have good mediation skills. Disputes are unavoidable in a community, and mediation is critical to resolving disagreements.
- Considering the wealth of responsibilities a manager has to juggle, a good HOA manager should know how to multitask. They should also have excellent time management skills.
- Ideally, an HOA manager should have accounting experience. Accounting and financial management comprise two of the largest aspects of community management.
- Finally, a good HOA manager is willing to learn and is always hungry for knowledge.
Can a Homeowner Be an HOA Manager?
Ultimately, there is no universal answer to this question. Board members have to examine the situation from every perspective to arrive at a decision. It is also critical to check the governing documents for any provisions on this matter. Beyond that, it helps to ask for the input of homeowners in the community to avoid ruffling any feathers.
As an alternative, an HOA community can skip the professional manager and opt to use management software instead. Condo Manager offers comprehensive management solutions to homeowners associations and HOA management companies. Call us today at 800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo.
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