Running the day-to-day business of a condo development of an HOA of any size-be it a sprawling, multi-building community, or a single self-contained building – requires not just a functional board, but, a team of competent outside professionals.
While just about everyone in your association or building will have an opinion on who should be hired to do a particular job for the community, ultimately that’s a decision made by the elected board. Board members get to figure out which management company to select, along with which accountants, attorneys and other professionals to hire, says Andrew Fortin, senior vice president of external affairs at Associa, an association management company with about ten offices in Florida and nationwide.
“The board should give special thought to how each professional level service provider is hired, and should engage in due diligence to confirm professional licenses, uncover any ethics complaints or other potential red flags,” Fortin says. “Some management companies offer pre-screened vendors that the association may choose to use if they wish. This can be a benefit to the board, as many of these vendors are pre-screened to ensure they are fully licensed and insured.”
During the interview stage, the board should publicly interview the managers, accountants and attorneys during open meetings where the owners are free to observe. The board is under no obligation to allow owners to question prospects, however, and may hold all owner comments until after all interviews are done, Weil says.
“Again, this is up to the board,” he continues. “We have attended meetings at which owners were invited to ask questions, which can sometimes be informative; we have also been to meetings where the board didn’t allow any owner questions, which can be a little strict, but can also prevent a one-hour interview from becoming an all-night review of what-ifs or what has been done in the past.”
Fortin goes on to say that it’s critical that the board ensure that vendors have the appropriate bonding and workers compensation insurance in place to protect the association from mishaps. “I have seen instances where a community hires a local handyman to help with the landscaping, and the person does not have insurance or proper bonding,” he says. “The vendor is injured on the property or damages a home, and the association is on the hook for the damages.”
“Anyone who deals with residential matters should have an outgoing demeanor, be pleasant, and look professional,” Fortin advises. “Professional association memberships are a good sign that the professional or his business support the industry as a whole, and educational credentials provide evidence of an investment in their skill set and also can provide recourse should the professional not live up to their obligations.”