The Condominium Association and Self-Management

Many condominium associations choose to self-manage. Instead of hiring an outside party to maintain the property and its funds, the board of managers assume the entire responsibility of the operations for the association. In theory, this type of management style comes with its benefits.

First, the board is in complete control of all matters concerning the association. These include fiscal activity, insurance requirements, repairs and improvements, and ownership issues. Second, self-management saves money. All tasks are completed by the board on a volunteer basis. Board members are paid a minimal amount, if any. Duties may include anything from balancing the books to sweeping the halls.

Many condominium associations prefer self-management under the assumption that it provides for the perfect community. They’re relying on fellow owners to care for a mutual investment. However, self-management is often a recipe for disaster and even the smallest of communities may suffer its consequences.

Typically, specific tasks will be delegated to various members of the board. One will manage the bookkeeping, another may oversee exterior maintenance and employ various contractors such as landscapers and cleaners, and another may be in charge of capital improvements. The board will initiate legal action in order to collect delinquent condominium fees. They will address questions from the association, banks, and realtors among others using condominium documents to guide them. The board, essentially, rule the kingdom.

However, positive perceptions of self-management often change while one is serving his/her term. A conflict of interest invariably arises with a disgruntled owner or two. Whether it be a challenge to the cost of a weekly cleaner or inadequate insurance coverage due to poor judgement, there’s always room for debate. Board members who live on the property rarely look forward to that awkward encounter with a neighbor for whom the foreclosure on their home has been initiated. Whereas self-management seemed like a good idea at inception, it soon brews into resentment.

A management company or financial manager will take charge of all of the aforementioned tasks and more and procure qualified outside services to complete projects when necessary. While utilizing their expertise, personal involvement will not impede progress. Confrontation with an argumentative homeowner will not dissuade them from doing their job. And while they understand they can’t please everybody, elected members of the board begin to familiarize themselves with the notion, self-managing is a “thankless job” and hostility presents itself at monthly meetings.

Whatever type of management the condominium association chooses, a utopian community is just a fairytale. No management style is without its flaws but each has its unique benefits. The objective is to maintain the property and its funds while providing peace of mind for the Board and the majority of the community; a community in which one will enjoy calling home.