Homeowners move into a community association for a variety of reasons. Some people seek carefree, maintenance-free living, where all responsibility for home care, recreation, or community activities is handled efficiently and promptly by others in return for a monthly fee. Others seek security or affordability. But being part of a larger community of neighbors means more than just sharing the clubhouse, the laundry room or the in-house gym on the weekends.
In any diverse group of people, meeting the expectations and demands of the person next door can be complicated. The grass is too tall, the trash removal is too early, and the leaky roof still hasn't been fixed. Owners might believe that the board has its own agenda, the management company never returns phone calls, and their neighbor is parking in other people's spaces.
If you live in a condo association or serve on the board of one, chances are, you've heard it all. But of all the gripes, most professionals say that the two most common problems, regardless of size, are apathy, and lack of communication and respect between boards, management, and association members.
These problems, though, are easily resolved—even prevented—if an effort is made to improve communication, maintain realistic expectations, and encourage some good, old-fashioned respect.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Responsiveness is a big issue. "The biggest complaint I hear," says Diane Dangler, CMCA of DHD Management in Oceanport, "is that condo management companies don't return calls and don't follow up." She says it's not necessarily that companies don't want to be bothered by their communities. It's rather that, "big companies may give their reps seven to nine properties to manage - and that workload is usually just too large for one person to handle without the support of a large staff."