K.C. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Help! We have a new property management group at our condominium complex. My concern is that they do not seem to realize that they are working for us. They are attempting to run the show. They need to be reeled in but we have a new Board and they are doing their best. However, the question at hand is this. We have asked for the exact break down of our budget….what amount was actually spent on the services versus amount that was allocated. For example; we are informed that $500 a month is used towards snow removal / landscaping (not a lot of grounds). Be informed as to what services they are providing and are accountable for. They are not providing us with this financial information but rather just a nondescript copy of a budget with no other information. What are we entitled to and be more informed of our rights? Thank You!
Mister Condo replies:
K.C., a new Board and a new Property Management company both at the same time? No wonder there is some confusion. Let’s talk about what is likely going on here and how you and your community can survive and thrive during this transitional period. I can assure you that the property management firm knows it is working for you. May I assume that the previous Board was the one that hired this firm? They were given their current marching orders from folks who no longer serve on your Board of Directors. My guess is it will take some time for the new Board to get up to speed and take back whatever control they wish from the Property Management firm. The Property Management firm is very likely doing its best job at running the association in light of new and inexperienced Board members.
I assume that you are a unit owner and not a member of the Board of Directors. Is that correct? This may sound strange but the Property Management firm is not accountable to unit owners. The Property Management firm reports only to the Board. If the new Board requests the information you have suggested and is denied the information, they very likely have the right to terminate the agreement with the Property Management firm. Of course, that may require the community association’s attorney to get involved because the management contract is a legally binding instrument for the association and the management company.
As a unit owner, you have the right to inspect records of the association, including paid invoices to vendors. However, you do not have the right to do so at will or free of charge. You may contact the management company and schedule a time to review whatever public records of the association that you wish. The management company does have a right to charge you a fee for doing so. To be honest, unless you know exactly what you are looking for, I do not recommend you waste your time or money doing so.
What I do recommend is that you hold your new Board accountable for the work being done on behalf of the association by the Property Management Company. If you suspect wrongdoing on the part of the management company, you have every right to request the Board look into it and report back to the entire community. However, if the Board is satisfied with the work and accounting of the management company, you should be prepared to accept their findings. The Board was elected by you and your fellow unit owners to conduct the business of the association. I am not sure why the entire Board is new but that usually signifies there are numerous problems within the association, especially if the entire previous Board resigned or was voted out of office. New Board members require training so that they can do a good job of governing the association and managing the association’s assets and business service providers like the Property Management Company. If the new Board doesn’t perform to the satisfaction of unit owners, they, too, can be voted out. The problem may be finding volunteers from within the community who are eligible and interested in serving.