Those living in communities with homeowners’ associations may sometimes wonder what exactly is the role of the community manager versus the role of the board of directors. Put simply, an HOA's board of directors is akin to a municipality's board of aldermen or commissioners and a community manager's role is something like that of the town manager.
The Basic Functions of a Community Manager
The community manager serves to carry out the day to day directions and functions of the community but does not do things like raise assessments, approve contracts or budgets – those things fall to the board of directors. Community managers work with the board and various committees to oversee vendors' work performances, contract management, contract negotiations, billing assessments and collections to a certain degree. Community managers also draft budgets for many of their boards and present these drafts to boards for them to either approve or modify.
Another big role community managers play is attending board meetings and membership meetings of the associations they serve. At these meetings they serve to give reports and answer some questions the board or members that are present might have. Community managers are also tasked with keeping up with association financials, producing financial statements and presenting such to boards of directors.
What Tasks Fall Outside of the Community Manager’s Role?
There are, of course, several things that community managers don't do. The community manager does not amend governing documents or establish policies - those are things that fall in the hands of the board of directors and/or members and must be done according to procedures laid out within those documents.
The community manager cannot adopt or change rules and regulations of the community though they do play a role in the enforcement of such through conducting compliance inspections, common area inspections and producing violation letters on behalf of the board and the association. Community managers are also not charged with settling disputes between neighbors unless there is a violation of the governing documents. Often when people have issues with neighbors, they want to hide behind a faceless entity - it isn't within the scope of the community manager's authority to step into these types of conflicts.
Community managers also do not provide services outside their area of expertise. That is to say they cannot act as construction managers, engineers or tax professionals, to name a few. They also, of course, do not serve as attorneys. However, community managers do play a role in working with boards and these kinds of professionals in that they can serve as a liaison in terms of making recommendations for boards on professional services to use.
Don't think of these "can't dos" and "won't dos" as an unwillingness to provide certain services, but rather the community management company's commitment to staying within their area of expertise and following the law. Community managers serve to provide your board and association with the professional guidance they deserve and a big part of that is ensuring the boards they serve are working within the confines of their governing documents and are receiving services from the right professionals.
At CAMS, we like to think that our one of our main purposes is providing trusted guidance to the communities we serve. We of course also provide tangible services to our communities, but our biggest responsibility is providing professional guidance to the boards of directors who serve the communities we manage, allowing them to lead their communities as effectively as possible.
Find out more about all of the wonderful services CAMS offers here.