Category Archives: Property Management

One Building; Two Different Condo Management Firms

C.K. from New York City writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can one condo building have two different management firms? One third of the condos are owned by one person. Can there be two different managers?

Mister Condo replies:

C.K., I don’t see why not. The obvious question is how many associations are there in each building? If the entire building is just one big association, there may be no need for multiple management firms. If there are different associations occupying various floors (i.e. – Floors 1-20 make up the Huntington Association while Floors 21-40 make up the Manhattan Association), it would not be uncommon for each association to have its own management company. The ownership of 1/3 of the condos by one person shouldn’t have any effect on the management although it would indicate a large number of rental units, again not uncommon in large city associations. It is possible that a unit owner with that many units also employs a management firm to keep an eye on his investment. That firm would only have duties relating to the tenancy of the investor-owned units. Hope that helps. All the best!

Property Manager Fails to Solve Condo Owners Water Leak

E.W. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Not sure if you can help me since I am in Florida but I’ll give it a try. I’ve been having difficulties finding any free advice and do not wish to contact an attorney at this point. A week ago, I noticed I have a leak in ceiling of my condo that has worked its way down into the wall pooling next to a bank of light switches. The condo property manager came over right away when I notified them of the leak. He took some pictures and that was it. I followed up today asking for an update and he basically stone-walled me stating that there was nothing he could do until the association finds a roofing contractor and he could not offer a time when one would be selected. I asked him to send me an email today explaining the situation. Unfortunately, we are in hurricane season now with one on the way. I’ve been documenting my interactions with dates, photos and comments but in the end, it really doesn’t solve my problem. Do you have any recommendations?

Mister Condo replies:

E.W., I am sorry for your unfortunate problems and your unfortunate timing. It would appear that while your condo manager was efficient in answering your complaint of a water leak, there is no mechanism to easily correct the leak. You do need to follow up with both the Property Manager and the Board as this is their problem, too, and they need to address the problem even if hurricane season is soon to follow. You don’t need to hire an attorney at this point but you do need to have your problem addressed. Water leaks near electrical switches are no laughing matter. Someone could get electrocuted or a fire could ensue. The Property Manager may be your first line but don’t rule out the Board’s responsibility to address the issue. Squeaky wheel tends to get the grease so make some squeaks in the right direction and see if you can’t get this issue addressed without having to hire an attorney. My guess is you can. All the best!

Snow Removal Responsibility for Condo Limited Common Elements

B.P. from Pennsylvania writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a condominium HOA. Our documents state that the association is responsible for snow removal in common areas. It specifically excludes driveways, but what about limited common areas such as porches and steps? About half of the units are townhouse types. Do these owners need coverage for accidents that may occur on areas that are not association responsibility?

Mister Condo replies:

B.P., just as your documents define the responsibility of the association with regards to snow removal from the common areas, they likely pass the responsibility of limited common areas to either the owners or the association. If the documents are silent on the subject, the association might want to think about adding clarification for lots of reasons. First and foremost is safety. Regardless of who owns the porches and steps, they need to be kept clear so no injuries occur. As bad as the injuries may be, the resultant lawsuits that will likely follow can be devastating to the association. In my opinion, it makes sense for the association to take on the additional responsibility (and cost) of snow removal. That may cause a slight increase to common fees to cover the increased snow removal expense but it will assure that all was done to keep the porches and steps clear, this reducing the risk of injury and lawsuit to the association. As for the potential liability to homeowners, it is the same risk any homeowner has. If someone gets hurt on your property, you should have insurance to protect yourself. All the best!

Condo Staff to Unit Owner Ratio

S.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Is there a staff ratio per condo unit? I live in a 500-unit condo (12 buildings) and want to know how much maintenance staff or cleaning staff is standard per unit. Thanks!

Mister Condo replies:

S.B., the short answer is that there is no staff ration per condo unit other than that negotiated between your Board and Management Company. Even then the staff that works for each entity is generally tasked with performance, not a head count. In other words, if the grounds can be maintained by 10 folks instead of 20, the company responsible will likely only employ 10 people as that makes the most business sense. The same is true for any other function or service provided by contractors for the association. Are you happy with the work that is being done? Then, there are probably enough people doing the work. Are you unsatisfied with the work or services provided? Chances are a few more staff members might do the trick. My advice would be to focus on the outcomes, not the number of staff. If you think services are lacking, you might want to reach out to the Board to see what, if anything can be done. Hiring more staff might just be the solution although it will come at a price. Are you willing to pay more to get more? Are your fellow unit owners also willing to pay? If so, anything can be done. If not, it is what it is. All the best!

No Board at this Iowa Condo!

M.T. from Iowa writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I own a condo in a small HOA with about 18 units. We currently have a non-existent property manager/bookkeeper that has been in charge of running things since the board disbanded prior to my ownership. This manager has not done any repairs other than basic yard work and snow removal. My roof started leaking and all my requests for repairs have gone unanswered. My front deck is also dilapidated and in need of replacement and she just hired a handy man to come put more screws into the rotting wood. She is not an owner and, in fact, lives about a half hour away in another state. Majority of the owners agree she has been neglecting her responsibilities as a property manager and needs to go. How do we go about that if a board doesn’t exist? Many owners have asked to see the financial state of the association but she refuses and ignores our requests. Some owners are unable to sell due to the fact that they cannot prove that the association is in the black financially. How do we get rid of her put the association back into the hands of the owners? FYI, these condos were built in the mid-80s and most of our roofs and decks are in need of replacing.

Mister Condo replies:

M.T., I am sorry for your situation. Let me get this straight. You and the owners of the other 17 units have been living in a condo association for several years with no one realizing that there needs to be a Board to govern the association?!? You have a right to be upset with the Property Manager but what is she supposed to do? Technically, she has no supervision or guidance from the association. Unlike you and the other owners, she has no ownership interest in your association. I assume she is paying herself for her work out of the association’s common funds, collected by her, and used to pay for the scant services that are being provided. I would say you are fortunate to have her stick around without any direction or supervision from the non-existent Board. I hope she is honest and hasn’t robbed the place blind. The Board is the check and balance system to keep an eye on the association-owned assets (in this case, the money!). You and the other owners need to read your condo documents and determine who will volunteer to serve on the Board as soon as possible. Then, and only then, will you have an opportunity to address your immediate problems but also the myriad of problems created by not having a Board in place. Good luck!

Replaced Property Management Company Refuses to Surrender HOA Records to the Board

W.D. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The replaced property management refuses to surrender HOA records to the HOA board. Is that legal?

Mister Condo replies:

W.D., nobody likes to lose their job, including property management companies. While it is bad form to delay the turnover of association records to either the Board or the new property management company I have to say that I hear it happens all the time. Take a look at the former property management company’s contract. Does it say exactly what happens upon termination? Many contracts say the records have to be returned but they fail to say how soon. I have seen phrases such as “within a reasonable amount of time” and “at their earliest convenience”, which indicates it should happen shortly after termination but has no teeth when it comes to setting exact dates. It is not uncommon for an association to hire an attorney in this situation to pursue the management company. Usually, the threat of a lawsuit is enough to speed up the process. Other than that, you are at the mercy of the former property management company. Hope that help. Good luck!

Community Association Management Contract Requirement

T.W. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Does a manager of a very large condo building need a contract, as to her responsibility, salary etc.? Does the manager need a contract of duties and responsibilities?

Mister Condo replies:

T.W., managers are hired by associations to conduct the day-to-day business of the association, which include a myriad of tasks and responsibilities, there is usually a contract between the association and the manager or the management company that details the work and compensation for the work. If an association hires a manager without such an agreement, it really isn’t practicing good business practices, in my opinion. That wouldn’t be the manager’s fault. That would be the fault of the association. I am not aware of any legal requirement for such a contract but I can’t imagine hiring any person or company without such a document. All the best!

Board Member Involvement During Condo Association Developer Transition

K.W. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The Builder still has control over the association until which time a certain number of units are taken ownership of. However, it was allowed for one homeowner to have a seat on the BOD which consists of 4 in total at this time. My question is just how involved this HO BOD should be involved with our vendors, vendor RFQs and managing the community when we have hired and pay a management company to do this. Thank you!

Mister Condo replies:

K.W., developer transition periods are a very special time in the lifeline of a condo or community association. Board Members may have a representative seat on the Board but until the association is released from developer control they typically have very little to say in the day-to-day running of the association. However, neither does the management company unless the developer has empowered them to make those decisions. Involving a volunteer Board Member in the decision-making process is good politics and may even provide this Board Member a front row seat in seeing how the decisions are made. His or her involvement would be at the discretion of the developer. All the best!

Conflicts of Interest Arise as Condo Board Member is Hired to Serve as Property Manager

B.B. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our condo manager is also a resident in our association. Is he permitted to serve on the condo board? Our condo board allows him to sit at their table and speak freely at the board meetings while making other residents wait until the end to speak. Aside from the obvious conflicts of interests, are there any laws/rules about this sort of thing?

Mister Condo replies:

B.B., I am not aware of any laws or rules that would prohibit a resident of your association from serving as the condo manager. Obviously, any unit owner can serve on the Board if elected. Unless your governing documents forbid it, there is no reason a unit owner could not be elected to the Board and also serve as the condo manager. Your point about the conflicts of interest is valid and any Board that decides to hire a unit owner, and especially a Board member, to serve as the Property Manager has to be extremely aware of the possible conflict of interest. I have written about this extensively in this website. You can read the previously addressed issues here: http://askmistercondo.com/?s=conflict+of+interest. In a world where it is not necessary to hire unit owners to work for the association, I contend that there are always better ways to find and hire a property manager that protects the association from these possible conflicts. That being said, I am now aware of any laws or rules that are being broken. All the best!

Licenses Required to Work at Connecticut Condo or HOA

S.D. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I work for a Property Management company that is based out of Texas. The property is owned by one company but managed by another. Its located here in CT. The property is split with both condo-owned units along with rented units. Our HOA side is managed by someone separate who holds their CAM license. My question is, what licenses do I need to have if any while working onsite at our CT property? I do show and rent units along with leasing. Thank you for any enlightenment on this situation.

Mister Condo replies:

S.D., unless you are actually managing a community association in Connecticut, I am unaware of your need for a Connecticut Community Association Manager license. The type of work you are actually doing while in the state would determine what license(s), if any, are required. It sounds like you are functioning as a real estate agent, which does require a license. If you are uncertain, you can check the state’s website at https://portal.ct.gov/DCP/Agency-Administration/Division-Home-Pages/Licenseswhere you can research the work you are doing against the state’s licensing requirements. Other than that, check with your employer. I’m sure they don’t want you doing any work on their behalf without the appropriate license that would make them vulnerable to being sued. All the best!