“Trust but verify” was a phrase made famous by U.S. President Ronald Reagan. He frequently used this adage to discuss relationship transparency between U.S. and the Soviet Union. Today, the phrase often describes relationships between companies and stakeholders. It’s a good reminder of the due diligence that homeowner association Boards need to do when selecting HOA vendors.
Vetting should be mandatory for any vendor doing work for your association. This includes professional services such as CPAs and attorneys. Landscapers, pool service technicians, painters and other seasonal maintenance workers require vetting. To avoid putting your association at risk, your Board should evaluate vendors at least annually.
While references are a first step in vetting, you need to go beyond those. In today’s Internet world, it’s easier than ever to find information. Here are some common requests and questions for vetting HOA vendors:
- Request a copy of their business license and insurance for your files. Hiring an unlicensed contractor can mean that the association becomes the employer of the vendor.
- Regardless of how great a potential vendor looks on paper, call references to ask questions about the potential vendor’s work performance.
- Perform a background check on the owners. Your HOA attorney or property management company can help if you lack the time or experience to do this.
- Research Better Business Bureau reviews, if applicable
- Contact state licensing board to determine if any disciplinary actions are pending or have been taken in the last three years.
- Ask relevant questions
- How long has your company been in business?
- How many employees work directly for you?
- Request contacts for any major subcontractors used.
- What is your change order policy?
- How many times has your firm been involved in a dispute with a client in the past five years? How was it resolved?
- What percentage of projects have you completed on time? Within budget?
Performing due diligence takes a little more time, but the time is well spent. It helps protect the interests of your association and the homeowners. Regardless of how much faith you have in your vendors, following the adage “trust but verify” adds an extra layer of protection for your HOA.
Wise Property Solutions is a property management company serving East Tennessee with offices in Knoxville, TN and the Tri-Cities, TN. Specializing in Condominium Association Management, Home Owners Association Management, HOA Management and Gated Community Association Management. The firm is East Tennessee’s only Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC®).
Knoxville, TN: 865-643-8989
Tri-Cities, TN: 423-926-7373