We all have needs. Wants, too. In a condo or HOA, the significant needs or wants of the unit owners usually have to be routed through the board or management company. In theory—and usually in practice—this is a sound and functional system. But it’s not perfect. Next to noise complaints, the single most common grievance voiced by condo residents is that their board members and managers don’t respond quickly enough to phone calls and email messages regarding the needs and wants as related to the building or their individual unit.
"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."
This issue can certainly be avoided with enough effort on the part of the board members and managing company. But residents have a responsibility, as well. It’s essential that they know what to expect from their HOA administrators and maintain realistic expectations of them and the process itself.
Living in a Paradox
Board members often feel that they're pulled in opposite directions. On one hand, they are directly involved with the operations of their home and can lead the way toward positive change. On the other hand, they have to field everyone else’s suggestions and an unending stream of problems, which can often stall or even stonewall other, more long-rage goals. Some days, it seems like everybody has an agenda, and the term "cooperative living" is an oxymoron as board members struggle between responding to residents' concerns while doing what's best for the community at large.
This is one of the reasons why a resident’s complaint—about a noisy roof vent, say—may languish unaddressed for much longer than the resident would like. According to management pros, maintenance-related and other physical questions about an HOA or condo building tend to cause tension because residents often don't fully understand what their HOA administrators are obliged to address versus what is their own responsibility as homeowners.