Written by Kelly G. Richardson
This is the third and last part of a three-part series on managers and HOAs.

After selecting the desired type of management services, how can one evaluate a manager’s qualifications?

California HOA managers are unregulated, with no required license or minimum education. Rental managers must have real estate broker licenses, but not HOA managers. There is a wide range of qualifications and experience in the field, and industry credentials indicate experience and commitment.

Business and Professions Code 11502 defines a “Certified Common Interest Development Manager” as one taking 30 class hours in certain topics from a professional association of HOA managers. Section 11504 requires managers to annually disclose if they are “Certified” and prohibits false claims of “certified” status. While certification is not mandatory, disclosure is required.

Four organizations educate and credential California managers: Institute of Real Estate Management (“IREM”); California Association of Community Managers (“CACM”), Community Association Manager International Certification Board (“CAMICB”), and Community Associations Institute (“CAI“).

IREM is a national organization, with about 20,000 manager members, offering education and various property management credentials. Its managers are mostly non-residential but over 300 California managers hold the “Accredited Residential Manager (ARM)” credential. The ARM requires 45 class hours in either rental property management or CID management and passing a half-day examination.  The ARM does not qualify for “Certified” status in California.

CACM is a California organization founded in 1991 by a group of veteran managers, and currently has 1717 manager members. 1,330 active managers hold its Certified Community Association Manager (“CCAM”) credential.  The CCAM involves 36 class hours and qualifies managers as “Certified.” CACM has inaugurated a more advanced credential, the Masters of Community Association Management (“MCAM”), which involves 5 years minimum of CCAM status, an extensive written exam, a written case study analyzing an HOA and oral presentation, and 28 more class hours.

CAMICB administers the “Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA”)” credential. Originally affiliated with CAI when formed in 1995, the organization is now an independent credentialing body.  Attaining the CMCA requires either two and a half days of instruction, five years’ experience, or the CCAM credential, and passing a 120-question exam. California currently has 1,267 CMCA managers.

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The Community Associations Institute consists of 64 chapters, including 8 in California. Founded in 1973, CAI trains managers in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and United Arab Emirates. CAI offers three credentials: “Association Management Specialist (AMS)”, “Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM)” and the “Large-Scale Manager (LSM)”. The AMS credential requires attaining the CMCA credential, two years’ experience, and two additional days of classes. Currently, 708 California managers hold this credential. Managers holding the AMS designation qualify as “Certified” in California after taking CAI’s 8-hour California law course.

The highest widely-established general management credential is CAI’s PCAM designation. This requires five years’ experience, almost 100 total class hours, and preparation of a 100-200 page exhaustive case study of a large HOA. About 80% of applicants achieve the PCAM on their first attempt. 295 California managers currently hold this credential. Larger or higher profile properties may prefer PCAMs or those working toward it. The LSM credential requires a PCAM and additional education regarding large associations.

Ask about credentials, and make sure YOUR manager holds a credential (not just anyone in the office). Demonstrated achievement in professional education is helpful in evaluating prospective managers.

For more information go online to irem.org , cacm.org , and caionline.org .

Kelly G. Richardson CCAL is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and Partner with Richardson Ober DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Send questions to Kelly@rodllp.com

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