You are a Homeowner.
You have a leak in your roof. You live in a Condominium or a Homeowner’s Association.
You don’t even know who owns the roof, but you assume it’s the Association. After all, your fees are high enough, it should be included, right?
You call your Property Manager to report the issue.
You leave a voicemail.
You search to see if your community even has a website. You find it and click the login button. You look to see if there is a place a work order button, but don’t see one. There’s just a link to email or call your Property Manager. You email the Property Manager with your issue.
Crickets. You hear crickets, as they are not responding.
You put a bucket under your leaking roof and place your hands in your head. What do you do now?
Steps a Homeowner can take in regard to a Non-Response Property Manager
While you may be frustrated, scared, and/or confused, try to stay as calm as possible. Property Managers are on call 24/7 and we are responsible for responding to emergencies within the Community. We do want to help. But sometimes, multiple emergencies are occurring at the same time (imagine if your roof leak is the result of a major storm or hurricane and many Homeowners are calling at the same time).
After hours, especially, we may be coaching a t-ball game, in a movie, or just need to find a safe place to pull over so we can write down your information. We are here, for you.
AFTER HOURS (office is closed):
1. Call the Emergency Line. This should always be the first step in placing an emergency work order (or call) after hours, as many Property Managers work a 9-5 schedule Monday-Friday in the office. Calling their office line may not receive a response until at least the next business day. Likewise, most Property Managers are not checking their email after hours or on the weekends. Your voicemail and email will be buried in a pile of messages that need to be returned on the next business day.
The answering service that responds to the emergency line, is a call center. They will have a protocol to follow. For example, They may continue to reach the Property Manager by text message, email, and phone every 5 minutes. Likewise, if the Property Manager doesn’t return your call within 15 minutes, you can call the Emergency Line again, and the answering service can escalate the call to a Supervisor.
2. Email the Property Manager, AGAIN. AFTER you call the emergency line, you can also contact the Property Manager by email. It can be short, but be sure to include important information such as what is the problem, when did it start, where is it occurring, and what damage is occurring to your home. You can also indicate in your email the steps that you have already taken to potentially contain the situation. Include in your email when you called, when you emailed, when you contacted the emergency line, and any response you have received. This documents your frustration and creates a paper trail.
3. Call the Property Manager and leave ANOTHER voicemail. Not every Property Manager has the same preferred method of communication. Some of us check our voicemails first thing in the morning when we get into the office; others hop on email first. Your voicemail can be short and will re-direct the Property Manager to check their email. This will enable the Property Manager to search for your name or email address and bump your issue to the top of the list for response.
DURING NORMAL BUSINESS HOURS:
(Assuming you have already called and emailed without a response, and tried calling again, after waiting a few minutes…)
1. Call the Emergency Line. If you are experiencing a roof leak or any type of emergency situation, call the emergency line if the Property Manager or Management Company are not answering their phones (and you are getting voicemail).
PRO TIP: Even if the leak is occurring during normal hours, chances are, the emergency line of the Management Company is active during those hours, too. Emergency call center operators are very good at pestering Property Managers – and they can often help you get a response or escalate it to the Property Manager’s supervisor. Moreover, the Management Company is often paying extra for this Emergency Call to the Emergency Line. This will draw the Management Company’s attention to the overall management of the Association. It will help the Management Company assign the right level of support to and/or retraining of the support staff assisting your Community.
2. Contact the Manager’s Supervisor. If you are not already aware of the senior management person responsible for the account, now is a good time to learn. You can find this out by calling the management office and speaking with a receptionist (or their call center), or by clicking on the “contact” section of the Community Management Company’s website. The contact button on the Management Company’s Website almost always lands in the inbox of a senior person in the Management Company, and they will get your Property Manager (or someone else) to assist you.
3. Ask an Employee (or Contracted Employee) of the Association. If the Association has direct or contracted employees at the Gate, Security, Janitorial, Maintenance, and/or Concierge, this employee will often have a liaison to the Board of Directors and the employee can pass along your contact information to the Board Member(s). They also may be authorized to provide you with the contact information of the Board Members directly.
4. Contact the Board of Directors. The names of the Board of Directors should be available to the Homeowners. Many times, the Board of Directors produce their names and contact information in a few different ways:
- On the Community Website (or in the Community Portal)
- In a Newsletter
- On a flyer on a Bulletin Board in a Community Room or Mail Room
- On a Social Media Platform
- With an Association Employee
The Board will also reach out to the Property Manager, and often escalate it to the Property Manager’s supervisor.
5. Recap your actions in an Email to the Property Manager. If you are frustrated with the level of response from the Property Manager, restate your feelings as factual as possible (try to avoid negative emotion and feelings), in an email to the Property Manager and copy their Supervisor, and/or the Board of Directors. Let them know how you tried to reach them (what methods), and when (what times). Advise them that it is unacceptable to not receive a response. This action will document your attempts to work in a positive manner with the Property Manager, and most likely serve as a way to create a meeting between the Property Manager/Supervisor/Board of Directors. Together, they can then brainstorm together about how to provide better management of the Association and to each Homeowner.
Summary: There may be a valid reason (like a disaster striking the community) when the Property Manager may not be able to respond immediately to a Homeowner. However, your home is a personal and valuable asset to you. Communication from Management is important. Proactive communication prior to (if able) or during emergencies from Management can easily deter the phone calls from Homeowners from flooding in. All communication from a Homeowner to a Property Manager and/or Management Company should be acknowledged and have a response provided. If the issue is not a part of the day-to-day management of the Association or common elements, the Homeowner should still have a response provided to them by Management that informs the Homeowner and provides some direction (i.e. who they may contact for assistance) for the Homeowner to take.
Bricck Property Management is a boutique property management firm, providing property management services to Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. Bricck specializes in the property management of Condominiums, Homeowner’s Associations (HOA’s), and Planned Communities. At Bricck, we put the people back in Property Management, recognizing that communication and responsiveness is a top priority for all Homeowners. If you are not happy with your current property management services, contact us today for a proposal.