Given the fact that they are a part of the same industry and share similar duties, it is easy to see why many people confuse homeowners associations and property management. Though they both are involved in the management of housing communities and often work hand in hand, there is a distinction between the two. In order to understand the fundamental differences, let’s first take a look at the definition and responsibilities involved in both. 

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What is a Homeowner’s Association?

Any housing community is made up of numerous types of homes or units such as estates, condos, and subdivisions. While the individual units are typically owned by different entities , there are certain elements that affect the entire community such as landscaping, neighborhood playgrounds, walkways, and more. It is vital for the homeowners of the community to share responsibility for these types of things.

For this purpose, communities form homeowners associations, or HOAs, to develop and enforce rules that all property owners need to abide by to ensure the wellbeing of the community. The HOA is made up of residents of the community and governed by a board of individuals elected by other members. As owners of property within the community, these members have a good incentive to keep the community functioning optimally. 

Some typical responsibilities and duties of an HOA include:

  • Making and enforcing rules on property maintenance and improvement known as the CC & Rs: covenants, conditions, and restrictions
  • Preparing a reasonable budget to determine the best way to spend dues
  • Acquiring necessary insurance to cover the communal areas
  • Finding and hiring contractors and other service people for the community

The HOA has a great deal of authority within the community. If a member of the community violates the rules set by the HOA, the HOA will use their discretion to find the proper way to penalize the noncompliance. 

What is the Property Manager’s Role?

Though hugely important to the maintenance of the community, a homeowners association cannot always directly complete all necessary management jobs for the community. As individual members of the community volunteering to help the community at large, the members commonly have other professional obligations and personal affairs to worry about. For this reason, a homeowners association will often hire a property management company to help things run more smoothly. 

A property manager may be responsible for:

  • Communicating with the other homeowners on important community matters
  • Collecting dues from individuals in the community 
  • Hiring and/or supervising the contractors and service people 
  • Dealing with emergency situations 

In these ways as well as others, the property management company assists the HOA with their day to day obligations. 

How Do They Work Together?

By now you should have a better idea of how a homeowners association differs from a property management company: the HOA is a volunteer group of representatives that promote the wellbeing of the community, while a property management company is a privately owned company that often helps to serve the needs of HOAs and similar properties. So how do they work together?

There are many instances in which a community will be managed by both a homeowners association and a property management company. This typically occurs when an HOA board hires a property management company to manage the business affairs of the HOA. Specific duties may vary at the discretion of the HOA, but they will usually include collecting dues, managing contractors, and dealing with emergency situations. Overall, the property management company ensures that the day to day obligations of the HOA are carried out effectively. 

In other cases, however, property managers could also be owners within a community that is overseen by an HOA. In an instance like this, the property manager is essentially just another owner and therefore must abide by the same rules. Though this situation can be a little difficult, the bottom line is that the rules of the community must be followed regardless of who is actually living in the residence. 

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Benefits of HOA Property Management 

When considering buying a condominium or a property in a planned residential development or in a subdivision, it is likely that you will have to join the homeowners association. This means that you will be obligated to pay HOA fees and follow HOA rules, which some may find tedious. 

However, in exchange for your money and compliance with the rules, you will receive countless benefits:

  • The HOA represents the interests of the community as a whole, managing shared expectations and responsibilities in an effective way 
  • Being a member of an HOA protects property values
  •  Along with a place to live, you get access to community amenities such as swimming pools or tennis courts
  • The rules in place discourage delinquent activity, creating a safer living environment 
  •  Living in an HOA community promotes community engagement and forge a positive relationships with neighbors

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All of these factors, along with many more, make living in an HOA community highly desirable. Yet behind all these benefits comes hard work for the HOA, and sometimes the vast range of responsibilities can be overwhelming for the group of volunteers. In order for the benefits of an HOA community to be maximized, the HOA must be running smoothly, which leads many associations to turn to a property manager. 

When HOAs opt to forego a property management company, it is often for cost-cutting purposes. In the long run, however, the costs of trying to do everything alone outweigh what it would have cost to simply hire a property management company in the first place. Not every HOA deems it necessary to hire a property management company, but in many cases, it can be highly beneficial to the HOA themselves and the respective community as a whole. Here are a few ways how:

Community Maintenance 

Maintaining the common areas of a community is one of the biggest responsibilities of the homeowner’s situation and one that can often become overwhelming. A property management company is likely to have access to a whole network of vendors at their disposal that they can use to take care of these maintenance services. With better knowledge of the vendors and contractors available and an established relationship with one or several of them, the property management company can be highly effective in these responsibilities. 

Property maintenance not only provides a pleasant atmosphere for the present community by keeping their area looking pristine but also may entice others on the market to look for a home in that area. 

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Financial Collections

Having to handle money is always a sensitive matter, particularly for members of the HOA who may literally be collecting fees from their friends or family. No one wants to be the ‘bad guy’ and enforce late fees or penalties. As a result, members of the HOA often dread this task above all, though it is arguably one of the most important tasks for the community. With a property management company as the middle man, the situation can often be less stressful to ensure a more timely and effective fee collection

Rule Enforcement

Just as dealing with money internally can be awkward and messy, enforcing rules and invoking punishments can prove uncomfortable as well. When disagreements arise, the management company can intervene to come to a more peaceful conclusion. Having a third party in these cases helps prevent conflicts of interest, ensuring that punishments are enforced consistently. 

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Legal Knowledge 

While a homeowners association governs the community, there are also a set of local, state, and federal laws that govern the homeowners association. The board of volunteers may not be completely familiar with these laws and their consequences and may have even been in violation of one or more laws without even realizing it. A property manager will be well versed in these topics, and can thereby provide clarity within the association by making sure everyone understands the rules. 

Equipped with proper knowledge, the HOA can be sure that they are in compliance with all laws right off the bat, and if they happen to find themselves in legal trouble, the property management company can also guide them in how to navigate the situation at hand. 


Clearly, homeowners associations and property management companies are invaluable resources for the task of managing housing communities. In many cases, their value can be increased even more when they work together. With an HOA in place to manage the shared expectations and responsibility of the community members, and a property management company to keep things running smoothly, a community can thrive.

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