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How PMI’s Association Management Services Can Help Condo Owners Avert Disaster

By keeping an eye on reserves and educating homeowners and board members, association managers may be the key to preventing the next condo collapse from happening.

By 1851 Staff1851 Staff Contributions
SPONSOREDUpdated 11:11AM 10/14/21

The tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building collapse in Surfside, Florida last June sent shockwaves through the world and sounded a wake-up call to condo associations across the country. 

News reports suggest that the Surfside condo did not have the necessary reserves to begin critical repairs, which had been cited as early as 2018. 

Property Management Inc. (PMI), a fast-growing franchise business that offers expert property management solutions, said that its association management service is designed to help avoid such calamities.

“At PMI, our job is to get ahead of issues before they become national news,” said Blake Sanford, the executive director of association management at PMI. “Effective communication and accurate reporting on financials is key to doing that.”

According to news reports, inspectors issued a 2018 engineering report to the Surfside building’s condo owners association detailing “major structural damage.” Two-and-a-half years later, with repairs not started, the building suffered catastrophe. Today, Champlain Towers South’s association finds itself the subject of lawsuits and blame.

“One of the biggest problems with association management is that board of directors aren’t properly educated on how to do their job,” said Sanford. “During the day they may be doctors, construction workers or teachers, but then they serve as a volunteer board member with little to no experience in the industry. They have no understanding of what fiduciary responsibilities and roles are or how to effectively lead and manage an association.”

Sanford says that self-managed condo associations lack the resources to clearly communicate with their homeowners or effectively understand building financials.

That’s where PMI comes in. In addition to residential, commercial and short-term lease property management services, it also oversees 850 association management clients, representing approximately 60,000 home units.

“There's a lot of board members and homeowners who have never said the words ‘reserve study’ before,'' said Brianna Davis, a PMI franchise coach. “It's becoming a much more common language because of the tragedy.”

Davis said that although states are generally lax about the expertise and training association managers need, the PMI’s association management professionals voluntarily receive accreditation through training with the Community Association Institute. “It’s a stamp of approval that these association managers are familiar with all aspects that you would need in a property manager.”

“When a condo hires a firm like Property Management Inc. to assist the management of the association, you're getting expertise in the field, and you're getting someone who's been trained in property management standards,” Sanford said. “Plus, you have boots on the ground on a local level with a national presence in property management.”

“We educate homeowners and board members on what the inspection process should look like and what the solution would be,” Sanford added. “PMI will raise the alarm with board of directors, educate them on what needs to be repaired and effectively communicated the repercussions of failure to act would be. Financials would need to be properly presented to give a clear path to repair.”

And it’s those financials that make the difference. “Ninety-nine percent of the associations that we bring in have an issue with their accounting,” he said. “We bring in tools that provide complete transparency on the financials, and it streamlines that entire communication process.”

That means that condo associations have not created appropriate levels of reserves to address problems that do arise during inspections, which may result in burdensome special assessments for unit gowns.

“When you don't know where your finances are, and you're getting behind the eight ball every single year, ultimately that results in creating huge special assessment with homeowners saying, ‘I don't want to go pay a special assessment,’” Sanford said.

A transparent approach to financial reporting, including month-to-month financial reserve targets, avoids other questions of financial impropriety among board members, Sanford said. “If you're doing this on a monthly basis, you're not getting to a point three years later, where your homeowners are questioning where all their money went,” he said. 

PMI also offers association management training to association board members through its online training platform. “We educate board members on how to be a board member,” he said.

The startup costs for a Property Management Inc. franchise range from $53,225 to $190,050. The franchise fee ranges from $45,000 to $190,050. To learn more about franchising with Property Management Inc., visit