Curlicue ribbons, flashy bows, richly colored papers with smoothed seams and perfect edges folded and taped. A big basket filled with goodies and wrapped with the most cellophane you’ve ever seen in one place. Sound like the gift table at a Bridal Shower or a landmark birthday for someone special? Well, there, beautifully wrapped gifts would be completely appropriate. But, in the office of the community association manager that helps your board with your Homeowner’s Association – things like these have no place. Nevada might conjure images of the easy marriage and divorce; decadent food and drink choices, and Sin City; and when you think of Mesquite, you get Golf, right? Well, we are so much more than that, aren’t we? For all the leisure and bad reputation – we are also a very highly regulated state. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the HOA (Home Owners’ Association) Industry.
What does that all mean to the homeowner here in Mesquite? Well, for one thing, it means you are getting someone educated and trained to manage all the details of your property. Someone you can turn to that will know when your board needs a professional and when your board can just wing it (if that situation ever does exist). That person, the community manager, takes the management of your community very seriously… or at least they should. Everyone has their own opinion of living in an HOA. Here in Mesquite where there are not a lot of other choices, it is a serious business indeed.
Along with the education, and the pleasure of working with the boards and the homeowners, comes a great deal of responsibility. Part of that is knowing what our jobs entail. But an even bigger and more important part is knowing what we shouldn’t do… And NRS 116 (Nevada Revised Statutes) is very clear about the “Shall Not’s”.
Did you know that a community manager shall not receive gifts from board members, vendors, or homeowners according to NRS 116.31185. The statute dictates that not more than $100 in aggregate can be received in any calendar year. In addition, any gift items received need to be detailed for the record. The giver, the approximate value, and other data are to be filed annually.
In our world of instant gratification and the plethora of vendor trinkets showered on potential clients each day… you can see how easily this one statute might be overlooked. It is, however, one of the more important things we need to remember. Ingratiating people toward a vendor, a service professional, or some other person connected in some way with the use of gifts used to be seen as a simple give and take. I give you something of value, something you can use in your workday, or even just take you to lunch – and in return you might push your business my way.
In a simpler work environment, this gift giving scenario isn’t such a bad thing. That trinket with a company’s name on it might sit on a desk and spur a person to call that vendor. But in this industry – it confuses a very simple issue, and that is – it is not the Community Association Manager’s job or right to pick the vendors the HOA works with. The manager can bring vendors to the board. The manager can make suggestions based on experience with a certain vendor or service company. But the manager should never be choosing the vendor your board decides to work with. The CAM is tasked with the job of assisting the board to make choices, not to make choices for them.
When people receive gifts, the feelings they have for the giver logically change. You might say “I’m not affected by such things.” But the simple act of receiving a gift causes a huge sense of reciprocity in us. This can be dangerous territory in a business where we’re not supposed to be driving the outcomes of choosing a vendor. Something as simple as a lunch can be met with the unwitting desire to push a certain vendor’s business. Though I rely on the vendor/CAM relationship to illustrate my point, it goes for anyone we come in contact with in our industry. We are likewise not to accept gifts from board members or homeowners, or people that we know in any way through the course of carrying out our jobs.
So, if you’re a vendor that works with us, and I tell you I cannot accept your gift… please don’t be offended. Just know that I’m here to do the best job I can, and that means, holding to the rules of my trade. And if you’re a board member, make sure you are following NRS procedure by vetting all your vendors and their prices, preferably by using the sealed bid process.
Gina Yenser is a Provisional Community Association Manager at Terra West Management Services in Mesquite. She has years of experience in Property Management, working for two large apartment management companies before coming to the HOA side. Gina will answer all your HOA questions from a professional’s perspective. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.