H.S. from Snohomish County, Washington writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
A number of months ago we hired a new management firm for a 17-unit townhouse condo. The terms seemed reasonable during conversations and going over the contract. It turns out we get charged for any communication, email, phone calls inquiries. Having a problematic renter in our community, we must communicate with the management firm. It costs us hundreds of $s extra a month with little results.
Time to move on? Thanks in advance.
Mister Condo replies:
H.S., I imagine paying by the communication is an expensive way to do business with your new management firm. However, it is not an uncommon practice and it may not be time to move on just yet. The real problem here is the problematic renter, not the fees to the management company. Does the Board have in place a policy that these communication expenses can be passed on to the problematic renter? That would be advisable. Typically, when any particular unit owner causes the association to spend money, that money is attributable to the unit causing the problem. In this case, the landlord that owns the unit has caused the association increased expense by renting to a problematic renter. I would think assessing these costs to the unit owner would be one way to get the owner to come down hard on the renter, making the problem go away at the same time. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column but if your attorney can advise you on how to make this happen, it would be a simple and direct solution to a simple problem. The association just entered into this management company agreement meaning you likely just changed management companies. I highly doubt it is time to do that again. All the best!