This week I've turned over my column to certified paralegal Sara E. Barry, who is the director of operations for Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin law firm. In it she addresses the role of community managers in our neighborhoods.
It is very interesting to me to hear over the years how directors get on homeowners association boards.
Being able to serve on the board of directors for a multimillion dollar corporation should require more than just submitting your name, but in this industry it can take a lot of work to get individuals to even do that. Serving as a director where your neighbors are going to get angry at you for your decisions may not the most appealing volunteer work.
In a prior life when I owned my own community management company, homeowners who complained about something found themselves on a committee and then ultimately on the board.
It worked for me and the community as we were able to find individuals who actually cared about at least one facet of their community.
Caring is not enough, however, as Nevada leads the nation in laws affecting homeowners associations. This is not something of which we should be proud. Our legislators continue to try to legislate good behavior and it can't be done.
Self-managed board members tend to be in a majority of the cases brought before the Commission for Common-Interest Communities and Condominium Hotels for punishment. They don't know what they don't know and there is a lot to learn.
It's important to listen to our community managers if we are lucky enough to have them.
At a recent state real estate commission meeting there was some discussion regarding the inability of managers to get their directors to listen to their advice.
One Nevada Real Estate Division administrator said, "As my licensees, if a board is not following the advise of the community manager and is not following their documents or the laws, I expect my licensees to turn them into the Ombudsman's Office for investigation and possible sanctions."
The manager only has the authority to do those actions detailed in their contract with the association. Since most management companies are putting the manager's requirement in Nevada Revised Statutes 116 to advise the board, in writing, to be in compliance with all state laws, does this mean that the manager needs a law degree and license to manage in Nevada?
What can the industry do to fix this? Some have recommended that all directors must receive at least a day's worth of education in the management of a Nevada nonprofit common interest community within the first year of their election.
Most managers oppose this from becoming law, however, as they have a hard enough time getting individuals to step up to the plate and serve.
Some managers have suggested just the opposite, keep them away from education as the little bit of education that they get just gives them enough knowledge to make them dangerous.
I, personally, have been taken to task for educating directors.
When did education stop being fun and interesting?
Any educational courses that our directors attend should be taught by knowledgeable and interesting individuals, not just someone who feels they can or want to do it and/or it is their turn in any organization that has sponsorship opportunities.
Any person attending, regardless of the number of years he or she has served on the board or has been in the industry, should walk away with new ideas or tools to help protect, maintain or enhance the values of the assets in his Nevada corporation.
We have some wonderful members of the Dedicated Community Association Leaders in our industry who took their responsibility to become educated seriously and are continuing to get education to keep that recognition through the Nevada Chapter Community Associations Institute.
Why should you listen to your community manager?
Managers are not just trying to be hard noses when they are insisting that the board do or not do something.
They are trying to keep themselves and the board out of trouble. Most of them have years of experience and the board would be well served to at least listen to this experience and not discount it completely.
As a HOA board member, if you do not follow the advice of the manager and that action is documented, you could face a possible state investigation and sanctions.
In most cases, the community manager is not the owner of the company.
The state does not require the company have a community manager license.
A push was made several years ago to tie the company into the licensing process, but the state lawmakers did not proceed with this recommendation made by community managers.
Barbara Holland, certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager, is president and owner of H&L Realty and Management Co. Questions may be sent to Association Q&A, P.O. Box 7440, Las Vegas, NV 89125. Fax is 385-3759, email is firstname.lastname@example.org.