What It's Like to Be an HOA Manager




Liz Stecklein, HOA Wrangler

Jeremey Theron Kirby

There’s not much Liz Stecklein doesn’t know about Home Owner’s Associations (HOA). For 15 years she’s been doing homes association management. With all that experience, you could call her an “HOA Wrangler.” From grappling with grass height issues to acting as the neighborhood conflict resolution therapist, she’s seen it all.

 

  • “The top complaints I receive from homeowners are concerns about their neighbors, whether it be trash cans out, garage doors up, and dog feces! One thing that I wish everyone knew is that your neighbors are watching you! So, if you go on a stroll with Fido and he poops, you better have a bag. I have quite the photo gallery!”

  • “One of my favorite phone calls I received is from an irritated homeowner who left a message on our emergency line. I call him back and he says he is sick of dealing with his neighbor. He can’t stand the noxious smell anymore. So, I ask, ‘What is the smell’ he replies, ‘COFFEE right when I wake up.’ I thought, ‘this is your emergency?’ He must not be a fan of, ‘the best part of waking up is Folgers in my cup.’ I kindly explain that when living in a condo you may smell things. That wasn’t the last call I received about the coffee smell – but it was the last of the emergencies for him.”


  • “A lot of people like having HOA’s. Some people just love the consistency of the look of the neighborhood and some want to know that their investment in their home will be maintained by the neighborhood structure. The social aspects of some HOA’s can also be a draw for people; it helps give them an identity.”


  • The first HOA may have started as far back as the 14th century in England. Back in 2010, an archaeological dig discovered a document from 1365 that included a covenant for the “Manor by the Meadow Association of Freeholders.”


  • “Counseling is a major part of my job – whether it be just to get someone to understand the rules of what they agreed to upon buying the home, or neighbor to neighbor conflict. I don’t know how many times I’ve solved a neighbor issue just by asking if they have met their neighbor that they are expressing concern about. Often people don’t meet their neighbors. Introducing yourself and being neighborly is key.”


  • “A complaint that I would say is common in the industry is how the landscapers mow a resident’s yard as we try to meet everyone’s expectations. For example, when a resident has mowed their own yard for 30-40 years, then moves into a maintenance provided HOA where all the homes are mowed with a commercial mower and at the same time, it’s going to look different. I’ve had people bring me zip lock bags with grass clippings to show me the length. I just wonder where they find the time.”


  •  The first modern planned HOA was Levittown in Long Island. There was no actual HOA in place, but neighborhood rules and regulations were written down and enforced.


  •  “Some days I tell myself I’m not getting paid enough to do this; like when I got a message that a neighbor was in the parking lot running around naked and I needed to do something about it.”


  •  “I love that I get to work with all different types of people. The make-up from one year to the next for any board of directors can be drastic. I can go from an extremely laid back group to a hyper micro-managed group and the good thing is they are all different and they change.”