Frequently Asked Questions

I hope that you find these questions and my answers helpful. I really want Ability to manage your community, and I hope we are invited to meet to discuss what a great job we can do for you. Please call (239) 591-4200 if you have any questions.

Dennis Lively, President Signature - Ability Management, Inc.

Questions to ask any management company you are considering

How many associations is the portfolio manager you assign to our association responsible for?

At Ability Management, our experienced managers with a full portfolio average about 9 associations.  If that person has any more associations, it would be because there are multiple associations in one community.  I have interviewed many managers who have had 17 or more associations, one manager with 25 associations, and most that I have met from other management companies seem to have 13-15 associations. That is too many associations to properly manage.

How often will my manager be at my association?

All of our managers are required to perform a formal “Property Check”, at a frequency called out in the contract.  Based on the association’s size and amenities, some associations only want a monthly property check.  Others want twice a month, and other want someone on site full-time.  However, and I cannot stress this enough, your manager would be there as often as is needed to deal with any issues.

What are the cancellations terms in your management contract?

Ability’s management agreement requires only 1 days notice for the association to cancel, for any reason or for no reason.  Ability must give the association 30 days notice to cancel.  If the association wants to lock in the management fee for a certain number of months, of course we would work with you on that.  Under no circumstances should you give any management company you hire more than 6 months to prove themselves to you, and your agreement with them should let you out of the agreement with no penalty after 6 months from the start date if you are unhappy for any or no reason. You absolutely should do this.  Don’t get stuck with a management company that is not performing to your expectations.

Is your management fee based on the number of homes?

No.  Our management fee is based on our experienced estimate of how much time your association should take our office team to provide the services and support that the Board expects.  For example, an HOA with no or few amenities would take less time than an HOA with many amenities. If an association’s Board only meets a few times each year, that management fee would be lower than an HOA that has a Board meeting every month.  An association that has a higher percentage of renters, who tend to cause more violation letters to be prepared and mailed, may have a higher management fee.

Is your management fee a “loss leader”, with the expectation that you will make your profits off of additional charges to the association each month.

We absolutely do not.  We very, very rarely charge an association anything extra for the manager’s time, or for our office’s time.  Exceptions would be a major project.  A major area for abuse from other management companies is the extra “office expense” charges each month for copies, faxes, cell phone calls, long distance charges, postage, envelopes, on and on and on.  That is why we have a fixed office expense each month. If your association does not have an onsite office.

How often does your company produce vendor checks?

We print vendor payables checks every Tuesday, to make it easier for the small vendors and subcontractors who run tight on cash flow.  I review every check and invoice, and sign most checks. A check will not be cut if it is not approved by either the manager or a Board member.  Approximately one third of the checks are co-signed by a Board member, whom we mail the checks, invoices and stamped envelopes to.  That is an association decision, as to whether I sign checks or not.

If an emergency check has to be cut outside of our normal weekly cycle, we always do that, at no charge, and normally the same day the check is requested.

Is the owner of your company a working Association Manager?

Yes, I manage 4 HOAs.  I have been a full time resident of Naples since 2003.  I am in the office every day, all day.

Questions we have been asked by Boards

What is your normal response time to a standard/emergency maintenance request? And what is the procedure to be followed?

All of our association managers, including myself, are on call 24/7.  Our answering service calls your manager (not someone who is “on call” that week who may know little or nothing about your community) with any after hour emergencies.  Our manager will call back the owner to discuss the emergency, and take whatever action is appropriate for the situation.

In regards to disaster plans—what can we expect prior to a disaster for preparation and immediately following?  Costs involved?

We have never charged an association for our time associated with preparing for a disaster.  In your HOA, we would put together a plan that would, for example, make certain that all pool deck furniture; etc was either stored or lashed together so it does not blow around, and also make sure the gates were opened.  In any event, we would work with the Board to put together a plan that meets the association’s needs.  No cost.

Termination—Would you be willing to add the following?: “ Delivery of either party by written notice, not less than thirty (30) days with our without cause. Written notice from the Agent to the Association in the event that there are insufficient operating funds to continue the operation of the Association, and continuation of such deficiency for a period of ten (10) days after such notice.”

If this question has to do with cancellation of the management agreement, that was covered in #B above.  If the question is what to do if the association becomes insolvent, that is a hypothetical that should never, ever, occur, given the association’s ability to assess the owners for needed funds, and to borrow from banks.

# Of HOA’s/ # of Condo managing at this time? Can you provide references of 5 HOA’s currently managing? 

We currently manage 40 associations, of which 13 are HOAs.  We will be able to provide as many references with contact info as you wish, once we meet.

In what ways would we benefit from hiring your company in establishing our docs? Extra cost?

Some of the associations that we manage have completely rewritten their docs.  Any management company that is telling you that your association will benefit with their guidance though a rewrite of the docs is being disingenuous.  That process is normally the product of a committee working with the law firm that you use.  You would not want to pay a manager to attend all of those meetings.(One of our managers is also the President of his 109 home HOA, which did a complete document rewrite a few years ago.  He would have invaluable input into this process.)

I will also state that associations rush to rewrite their docs “to get the developer language out”.  Most of the developer language does not apply after the turnover, and does not require a rewrite.  Other language that was advantageous to help the developer sell homes, can be changed or removed by amending the docs at a small fraction of the legal cost.  Examples would be pet policies or rental policies.  I have seen numerous associations give up on a re-write because the committee and the Board could not agree on various changes.

In regards to enforcement of covenants, what can we expect?

Normally, the manager is the one who looks for violations and writes a letter to the owner.  Often, the manager communicates with the President before writing a letter.  However, take dirty roofs as an example.  The manager would go through the community and note all of the addresses that have a tile roof needing attention.  Those letters would normally be mailed without any back and forth with the Board. (Earlier this year, at a large (329 homes) HOA that we started managing this year, we mailed out 165 dirty roof letters.  We established a spreadsheet to track each home, and the dates of the letters sent, and the responses we received back from the owners.  Except for 2 bank owned homes, all roofs were cleaned in a matter of months, with no need for fines or certified letters.)  But, we will enforce the docs to whatever extent the Board wants us to.

Would your accounting department be willing to meet with our treasurer?

Yes, of course.  My office staff meets with Board members all of the time, and there is never a charge for that.  I get compliments all of the time about how knowledgeable and helpful my entire office team is.

Tell us about your internal support staff? How many? Job descriptions?

I have 6 support teammates in my office.  Four of them have been with me for 6-9 years. There job titles are Bookkeeper, Billing and Accounts Receivable Specialist, Application Processing Specialist, 2 admins, plus an assistant property manager who assists me.  Also, the jobs associated with all association funds are divided between 4 people to eliminate any chance of theft: I am the only Ability employee who is a check signer, and I am the only one who can transfer funds between association accounts.  One person prepares the vendor checks.  A 2nd person handles all billing, collections and bank deposits.  A 3rd person does all of the bank reconciliations.  All three of those people have been with me for 6+ years.

How would you integrate with our existing website/newsletter? These communication sources have been created and are currently maintained by HOA committees.

That depends on what the Board wants.  In some communities that we manage, the Board maintains the website and produces the newsletter.  In others, we do.

Will you meet with vendors, obtain bids/negotiate? Extra costs involved?

Of course, we do this all of the time including preparing a scope of work for the Board to review and change.  No charge. (Remember what I stated in “D” above.  You need to watch out for extra charges.)

What would be your involvement in our annual meeting and election process?

We do it all.  No charge for our time.

Experienced, Dependable, Ethical

A Different Kind of Management Company

We are different from other Association Management companies in many, many ways. If you want better service, at a competitive price, give us a call, or drop us an email. Let us show you why we have An Uncompromising Standard of Excellence.

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