From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2018 18:43:33 -0700 (PDT)
> On Sep 14, 2018, at 5:58 PM, Katie Henry <katie-henry [at]> wrote:
> If you decide to use an outside entity to pay your bills and manage your 
> books, you have to watch them closely. You can't just walk away. If you are 
> informed enough to perform decent oversight, it might be easier to do it 
> yourself.

I agree with Katie. We’ve had several management companies and seem to have 
found a good one but have had problems that one would think we shouldn’t have 
had. And I do think it would be easier to do ourselves.


1. Not paying utility bills so the utilities were turned off—I think the 
utility company called first so they weren’t all turned off but it took a lot 
of detective work to find 3 months worth of bills in a desk drawer at that 
management company. They were using a computer program and one would think the 
financial manager would have noticed that there were no records of utilities 
being paid. How they got in the drawer, no one knew.

2. Inability to get a checkbook-like list of payments and deposits. I and our 
computer software geek went out to work with the accounting person to figure 
out how to do this. They were using a software a friend of the owner was 
developing and it was very strange. The process for getting journal was so 
complicated the young woman in charge would never have remembered how to do it. 
Most management companies use some other software only large companies use. An 
advantage of working with an independent bookkeeper is that they will use 
something accessible like Quickbooks or Freshbooks.

3. Another day our tech person spent 14-16 hours in the basement trying to 
figure out why our internet was down, testing wires everywhere, switching 
things in and out, etc. Finally he called the ISP to find out if they had 
changed settings or equipment recently. They said, Yes, you haven’t paid your 
bill for 6 months so we turned off service.

4. We changed banks and changed the credit/debit card we use for small 
purchases — the management company didn’t review our accounts to ensure that 
payments that had been charged to the card every month were transferred. More 
things turned off and discontinued. Small things but more irritation, delay, 
and do-overs.

5. We left one management company after repeated failures to follow through on 
many things. They turned over the accounts and boxes and boxes of paper, 
unsorted. There was $25,000 in our account that was unaccounted for. The 
treasurer tried to track down the source but was unable to. It had apparently 
been there somewhere for a few years and didn’t seem to relate to any unpaid 
bills or taxes. Since it was in our favor we finally just shrugged and bought a 

6. We had a contract for a quarterly servicing of our parking gate but the 
company wasn’t showing up and the gate was breaking down. The servicing company 
was a one person operation and he didn’t want to send a bill every time he came 
out. Despite having a contract for 4 calls a year and a notice from us that he 
had shown up, they wouldn’t pay him until he sent an invoice. We eventually had 
to change service companies even though this guy was good and understood us and 
our system.

You will end up only being able to use companies that can deal with your 
management company—meaning the service company has to have their own office 
manager to produce paper and follow up on getting paid.


I could go on but you get the picture. The people that management companies 
hire are clerical workers and young. They don’t look for or flag possible 
problems. You will in all probability have members who have much higher skills 
and who certainly have a greater interest in keeping the lights on and the 
elevator running. 

Last week a member had to sleep in the living room because she came home when 
the elevator was out. We couldn’t get anyone to come out and see what the 
problem was for 24-36 hours. We have 4 residents who can’t climb stairs. So 
without the help of a management company, there are still things going out all 
by themselves. It was a weekend so we were on our own.

Not being negative about hiring a management company, just being realistic 
about how well it many not work. You still have to check everything.

Sharon Villines, Washington DC
"We're only the light bulbs, and our job is just to remain screwed in.” Bishop 
Desmond Tutu

  • CPA Janet Murphy, September 7 2018
    • Re: CPA Sharon Villines, September 10 2018
    • Re: CPA Katie Henry, September 14 2018
      • Re: CPA Sharon Villines, September 14 2018
        • Re: CPA Philip Dowds, September 15 2018
    • Re: CPA Katie Henry, September 14 2018

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