The differences in onsite community management are as vast as the communities represented. Most managers training consists of the fundamental of community association management, but one of the greatest challenges a manager's faces is when they move from one side of the country to the other. Often, they find out that there are in fact differences in how we need to manage. Due to varying state laws, the approaches we take to legal, and physical environments can differ significantly.
State legal requirement is perhaps the most noticeable regional difference. Because state requirements can vary, it is the best practice that the community manager first familiarizes themselves with the laws of the state that the association resides, along with the association’s governing documents. One state may allow closed board meetings, while many others require that all meetings be open to the owners. The collection of assessments is a priority for the most association as they are the lifeblood of the community. Therefore, collections policies must comply with respective state laws and followed carefully and consistently to allow legal recourse for non-payment, if needed. There are also many states have enacted regulations that require licensing, certification and standards. Those managing in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, and Virginia should pay particular attention to the requirements for managing community associations. Additionally, each legislative year other states may have proposed regulations regarding management of Community Associations.
Each region presents its challenges when it comes to maintenance. For instance, areas that get snow need to plan for removal along with repairs for damage caused by salt solutions and plowing equipment. In other regions, hail damage is an annual concern, and a plan must be in place for addressing it promptly, while wind and rain damage are a concern for hurricane and tornado regions. Disaster response is an essential ingredient of managing large onsite managed communities. A community that is not prepared is not going to recover as quickly as another that has a disaster plan in place.
Planning is critical in managing associations in every region. A community calendar is helpful for charting out the maintenance needs for seasonal challenges and making sure that the association has the right insurance policies in place with adequate coverage. It is important to budget for preventative measures, repairs not covered by the reserve fund or insurance, or for the insurance deductible when necessary.
Every region has something special to offer, having onsite management that knows the challenges of your area is invaluable. When selecting a manager or management company, choose them knowing that their knowledge in helping the association navigate the various regional aspects of the community is key to the long-term success of the association and the community as a whole.