Community Association Management Companies, (or CAM, as people like to call us) are really not property managers, like some people think.
If you look up the definition online, you’ll find a few varieties of what a CAM Company does. This is how DBPR Department of Business and Professional Regulation website defines a Community Association Management Company:
CAM – A “community association manager” means a person who is licensed to perform community association management services including the following:
- Practices requiring substantial specialized knowledge, judgment, and managerial skill when done for remuneration and when the association or associations served contain more than 10 units or have an annual budget or budgets in excess of $100,000;
- controlling or disbursing funds of a community association;
- preparing budgets or other financial documents for a community association;
- assisting in the noticing or conduct of community association meetings;
- coordinating maintenance for the residential development and other day-to-day services involved with the operation of a community association.
Simply put, a CAM company is a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, trust, association, sole proprietorship, or other similar organization that providies any of the services described above.
It’s difficult to put what we do in just a few bullet points. Each Community Association Manager must be licensed by the state of Florida. All of their actions, and the workings of the company, are overseen by the DBPR. Their duty is to enforce the already existing bylaws and covenants of your association. To put your minds at ease, we do not run around making decisions on your properties. We just keep your board of directors out of trouble.
While an individual CAM does all of the things below, Vanguard has divided itself into departments that specialize in different aspects of running multiple associations.
Administrative Department: These are usually the first people homeowners come in contact with. They keep track of, and organize, your association’s mail outs (i.e. annual meeting notices or just a communication being sent to one homeowner). They answer and direct calls to the proper place, book and reserve association clubhouses, distribute association access (from pool keys, to gate remotes), track homeowner insurance (where necessary). They also update the association website, approve new website user registrations. They are annually updating association information in different databases (such as new board members listed under the Division of Corporations). It’s the administrative departments role to collect and process background screenings for prospective owners and tenants prior to passing them on to your board of directors. They are also the people who process and distribute incoming mail (including returned mail from owners who haven’t updated their mailing address).
Accounting Department: The accounting department handles the collection and processing of homeowner payments. Accounting speaks with homeowners about their accounts, forward communication to board members about proposed payment plans, and communicate with the associations collections attorneys for updates. They also code and process vendor payments, track updates on vendor insurance, reconcile association bank statements, prepare monthly association financials and file your yearly tax returns. Accounting also makes changes to homeowner accounts, prepares estoppels for the pending sales of homes, enter resale information for newly sold homes and even take personal, one on one meetings with homeowners that need an extra little hand.
Management Department: The people you’re most familiar with, the CAM’s. They work directly with the board of directors to enforce the association documents. This is done through monthly inspections, following up on homeowner and board member reports, and investigating information left by anonymous reports. These inspections then generate work orders (that get assigned to the associations vendors) and violations (which get mailed to the homeowners, many after the approval from the board of directors). They sit in at your board meetings, schedule meetings with board members and homeowners, and meet with vendors. They have to follow up on all work orders that get put in to make sure vendors are doing their jobs in a timely and acceptable manner. They follow up on the violations, to make sure your neighbors are abiding by the laws of your association. They work with homeowners to figure out a realistic timetable if things can’t be completed immediately, and in worst case scenarios, bring the non-compliant homeowners to the fining committee. They answer easily fifty calls a day, read through hundreds of emails, and go through and approve hundreds of invoices for your association before it goes to your association’s Treasurer. They gather bids for new work and make sure that each of those vendors are licensed and insured to provide your property with the best service. And yes, sometimes they have to call you about the pink polka dot drapes hanging in your windows that aren’t allowed. They run interference, to pass information from homeowners to the board of directors, and back again. They organize special notices and parlay between the association and attorneys for legal advice and opinions. They advise and aid the board of directors in the governing of association documents.
What can the managers not do?
Interpret the law, spend your money without board approval, dictate your association’s budget, approve or deny applicants without board approval, waive late fees or attorney’s fees on accounts, use your community pool without being a guest of a current resident, approve or deny architectural applications, get in the middle of owner versus owner disputes, enforce rules that do not exist on the property. We just happen to be the ones that notify you of all this information, therefore it’s often assumed it was the decision of the management company. All of this is done, so that your board members (your neighbors) don’t have to do it all on their own. For those associations that are self managed, it is up to the Board of Directors (which is an unpaid, volunteer position) to handle all of the above, all on their own while still maintaining their own jobs, families and lives.