Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Epic Fail

All too often, a prospective client approaches Access Management Group, asking us to assume complete control of a community. If you really think about it, this is an unacceptable abdication of homeowner responsibility.  A management company is only supposed to act as a agent of the Association, barred from the decision-making positions reserved exclusively for homeowners.  The Community's Board of Directors makes the decisions, but its the Community Association Manager that ensures that the Board's decisions are put into action. 

The root of such requests is typically due to apathy or tyranny - homeowners who just don't care and want someone else to "deal with" community issues OR homeowners that want the community that they live in to be run "their way."  Both are just the passive and aggressive sides of the same egocentric coin.  Board bullies grab news headlines, but homeowners who choose to “check out” of community involvement are just as damaging.  Carried to the extreme, a community ripped apart by strife or smothered in apathy finds itself in the same place:  under a Court-appointed master.

What can you expect if this occurs?  A court does not step in to the situation on its own.   It must be petitioned by a homeowner, the first of many expensive legal steps.  After a judge agrees that a community is simply limping along, he/she appoints a trustee to manage affairs. Often times, this is an expensive move that doesn't even end up benefiting the association in the least!

In one instance, a trustee assumed control of all association operations and bank accounts. The trustee ran the association as he saw fit and was able to bypass any and all voting processes. There was no homeowner input and no refusing to pay any increased assessments - no matter how much.  The salary cost for the trustee was nearly $64K for four month’s work.  Unlike a volunteer Board of Directors, a trustee is fully compensated for the work, which may run $150 to $300 an hour!

Money motivation finally drove the homeowners to take back governance of their community.  It was an expensive lesson:  The cost of constructive community homeowner engagement is far less than anti-social selfishness. The moral of this story - Be active in your community! If you won't...who will?

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