Condo property management has several unique challenges. Even though it is similar to other kinds of property management, such as apartments or single-family homes, there are a few things you’ll want to manage differently.
Here are a few examples. Note that this is assuming you are the condo association’s property manager, not managing just one condo as you might a detached home.
Responsibility is Relative
When you manage an apartment complex, the responsibility to maintain the units falls completely on management. Tenants have to follow a few basic rules, but the landscaping, maintenance, some utilities, and overall quality of the complex falls on the company renting out the units.
Condo property management is different because each unit is owned by its tenant. If their appliance breaks, they’re responsible. If they want to update something, such as the kitchen counters or bathroom, they can do that- no problem.
But there is a grey area. What do you do when the tenant wants to keep their full garbage bags or hideous decor on their patios? How do you deal with a broken pipe in an upper-level condo causing water damage on the lower floors? Most condos have limited parking spots, so how do you deal with tenants wanting to have lots of guests over, or more than just 1-2 cars?
These types of issues are where a clear, thorough set of community rules comes into play. Homeowner associations are often frowned upon, but they will help your condominium property management team stay in control of things.
Prepare to Mediate
When you manage an apartment complex, tenants don’t have a lot of authority. If a tenant is bothering their neighbors consistently and are acting in direct opposition to the rules they agreed to in their rental contract, the complex has the authority to kick them out.
With condos, it’s not quite so easy. Similar to single-family homes in a neighborhood, these families own the property they live in. That makes it much more difficult to simply remove an unruly tenant.
Instead, be prepared to serve as a mediator between the tenants. You may not get them to see eye-to-eye, but you can at least try to help them work out the issues. Nobody likes living next to people they don’t get along with, but since the tenants generally sell their condo to move away, it’s more of a hassle than moving out of a rented apartment. This extra hassle means people tend to stay longer, so any disagreements not dealt will only cause bigger problems later.
Have a Strong Contractor Network
Even though the owners are responsible for a major portion of the maintenance, there will be things you need to take care of. Landscaping, building structures and roofs, the pool, clubhouse, tennis courts, gate, etc.
While it’s tempting to hire someone to do most of this work and then turn your attention somewhere else, always keep your eyes and ears open for new contacts. It’s common for condo associations to get disgruntled with contractors at some point. By having a strong network you will be able to replace poor contractors with better-quality ones quickly.
And remember- the condo association is paying you to do this job because it prevents them from having to worry about it! Simply being able to act quickly will help you keep a good reputation in the association.
Know the Community
Anytime you manage a property- but especially with condos- get to know the community. Just like any other company, not every discussion needs to be about business. The better your relationship with the owners, the more buy-in you’ll have when tough decisions have to be made.
A great way to do this? Social events!
At the end of the day, a condominium property manager will do a lot of the same things you’d find most PMs doing- talking with tenants, dealing with maintenance requests, etc. But because you’re in a unique situation of carrying out the wishes of an association of homeowners, you will find yourself doing other tasks (like mediation) more often than, say, an apartment manager.