The role of a community manager is often confused with the purpose of a property management company which is very different. As the term suggests, a community manager is more involved with a community of homeowners as opposed to the management of the property. That said; the role of a community manager is crucial for the smooth running of individual developments.
Who does a community manager work for?
You will find the term Homeowners Association (HOA) very closely associated with that of a community manager. An HOA is a corporate body created by homeowners in a particular development with the sole purpose of maintaining and providing an array of community services. The various roles within the HOA tend to be voluntary, although some services such as community manager are often outsourced. In many ways, a community manager is the link between homeowners and the HOA.
Role of a community manager
As we touched on above, the primary role of a community manager is to overlook the day-to-day running of a development. This involves an array of tasks which include:-
• Working with the HOA board of directors to address any issues
While there are an array of daily tasks which the HOA are responsible for, from time to time one-off and emergency tasks will emerge. This direct line of communication between the community manager and HOA is vital.
• Property inspections
The vast majority of housing developments will come with several association covenants which need to be adhered to. One of the many roles for the community manager is to carry out regular inspections and ensure that there are no covenant violations. These inspections may lead to an array of repairs and maintenance issues which are also within the remit of the community manager to address.
• Contacting vendors to carry out repairs/maintenance
There can be a tendency to use the same third-party repair/maintenance companies regularly. As a community manager, it is their responsibility to find the most appropriate/competitive quotes for any repair/maintenance requirements. You will often hear the term “vendor-neutral” which effectively means no preference is given to any party.
• On hand for emergencies
As with any household, there will be various issues from time to time regarding communal areas/services or individual properties. The community manager is integral in addressing emergencies as soon as possible with personnel often on hand 24/7 to assist. A prompt response can often help to reduce any potential knock-on effects and in some cases, help avoid injury/fatalities.
• Assist with setting budgets
The appointment of a community management company brings with it a whole array of experience regarding budgets and individual services. Working with the board of directors of the HOA, you will find many community management companies assisting closely with the setting of budgets. After all, these companies have been there, done it and know exactly what to expect.
Is there a need for a community manager?
When you flick through the various roles of a community manager, it may prompt the question, why don’t the HOA members share these particular tasks amongst themselves and other homeowners. There are several factors to consider with regards to this issue:-
• As a volunteer member of the HOA, a formal role in the management of the community can take away much-needed family time and reduce the individual’s “enjoyment” of living in the community.
• A formal financial contribution system is often more appropriate compared to what can be sporadic free/voluntary services. These are not excessive contributions but merely enough to cover the cost of services required.
• You will often find that the role of a community manager helps to avoid friction between neighbours who may have disputes. As an unbiased party, the community manager can recommend a response to the HOA and action will be taken.
• A well-managed property development will assist in building up a reputation for the neighbourhood, which can also add a premium to property prices.
When you look at each activity associated with a community manager, there is a temptation to assume these could be done in-house. However, the cumulative impact of these activities will very often demand significant time, money and effort. There is also the fact that a community manager can prove invaluable when disputes emerge between members and neighbours.
The role of community manager is one that is often misunderstood and dismissed as something of a minor part. In reality, answering to the HOA, the community manager plays an integral role in maintaining harmony, addressing repairs/maintenance as soon as possible as well as being on hand to tackle any emergencies. Placing this role on a more formal basis, rather than voluntary, ensures that assistance is there as and when required.