Property Managers wear many hats: accounting, operations, covenant control, owner issues, vendor liaison, procurement specialists, landscaping, lakes & wetlands, risk liability and staff management, referee, and many more ad hoc tasks and requests.
Experienced property managers are well equipped to diagnose problems and craft solutions; however you may not be qualified to offer a professional opinion, and may put yourself, your management company, and the association at risk by overstepping your role.
Some directors want to use the experience and knowledge of seasoned managers as a cost savings strategy in lieu of a fee-based consultant. They may ask their manager to provide a professional opinion on legal, construction and MEP (mechanical, electric and plumbing) matters. Do not take the bait! If you are not licensed, do not give an opinion about matters that you are not trained, licensed or certified to offer. Make every effort to direct them to an expert whenever possible. You are not a lawyer, roofer, electrician, plumber, architect, general contractor or engineer. For large, complicated projects, a consultant will more than pay for their fees in time saved, project oversight and inspections. Yes, some will balk at the additional expense, and question your value. Others may even suggest it is your job and insist you “do the best you can” based on your experience. Please don’t. You will be doing yourself, the association and your profession a great disservice.
It is your responsibility to make the board aware of the limitations of your role as a community association manager. Perhaps it’s time to review the management contract with the board. Does the contract reflect what you actually do or is it a generic, boilerplate contract that does not represent the duties performed or requested? Make a note of the areas of the contract that you do not perform; either because you are not permitted to, or because it is not applicable to the community you serve. This review will allow for a realistic conversation about how best to serve the community and how, and when, to enlist the help of experts.
Endeavor to persevere.
Tanoa Lynne Poirier is the Managing Principal at Poirier Enterprises Inc., specializing in the management of community associations, commercial and investment properties, and individual residences in South Florida.
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