Dear Paul: After being self-managed for the last five years, ur board just hired a property management company. Now, we have been told that instead of communicating with the board members directly, we must call/email the property management company’s staff person assigned to our account. The problem is that the staff member has nine other properties to look after, and we often have to wait three or four days for a reply to our concern. What can we do?
Dear CH: I am sorry to hear that your experience with the management company has had a rocky start. A property manager’s job is not an easy one. Many property managers (PM) have several accounts to service. You could compare them to a busy emergency room. The first step when they receive a call, they will have to add it to the calls they have already received and like the emergency room, they will have to prioritize the issues and handle the most critical ones first. For example, a busted pipe with water leaking from the fourth floor to the basement requires immediate attention. The barking dog may be a secondary priority, while the garbage that was not picked up ranks at the bottom of the list. The number of calls and their individual priority will vary each day. Unfortunately, that is the way issues might be handled.
Does this mean that it is acceptable? In my opinion, it is not. As a paying client, a condo corporation should expect prompt and efficient service from their property manager. This does not necessarily mean an immediate response. I believe that a normal event reported to the manager should be acknowledged as having been received with a more complete reply to follow within twenty-four hours. By following this simple process, the client knows that management is aware and that they will be in touch soon. The client will not be on hold wondering if their message got through and if they will need to wait long to hear back. The worse service providers are the ones who leave their clients hanging with no feedback. When there is no timely follow-up, the client feels abandoned and ignored. If, as you say, the PM has nine other properties to attend to, should not be your concern. If a concern will take several days to resolve, the PM should provide regular status reports even if it just to say that there has been no change. This will tell the client that the matter has not disappeared from the radar.
You should document your concerns, bring the matter up with the board directly. The board will have to meet the property management company and come to some resolution. You may even want to include a response time clause in your next agreement with the property manager. Regards!