Infighting: The thought of it in a condo community makes everyone cringe, from residents to board of trustee members to property managers. It also puts those involved in an awkward position. Although it isn’t a common occurrence, thankfully, conflict can happen even within associations that have been typically harmonious. Sometimes problems arise within the board itself, and other times, between the board and homeowners.
Communication is often the first indication of a clash between board members and homeowners that goes a step beyond ordinary. “I get the feeling things aren’t normal when the board members stop responding to any major issues or if they’re taking one side and not willing to bend,” says Steve Hornsby, president and portfolio manager at HM Management in Attleboro, Massachusetts. “That’s usually where it starts.”
Property Manager John Kadim of Crowninshield Management Corporation of Peabody, Massachusetts, adds that board members who seldom attend scheduled meetings and don’t respond to emails are a clear sign of discontent. By contrast, an uptick in communication from homeowners can also be a good barometer. More phone calls and more emails than usual, together with more candid homeowner commentary, almost always signal frustration. When homeowners challenge him as to what the board has been working on and he doesn’t have an answer, “that is usually a bad sign.”
Don’t Get Personal
Moreover, instances of Us vs. Us us are usually personal, according to Hornsby. “Nine times out of ten,” he says, “it’s a personal issue rather than a business issue.”
And how can a property manager tell if the problem is the board itself?