Best Practices for Handling your HOA's Work Order Requests

Best Practices for Handling your HOA's Work Order Requests

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March 16, 2021

HOA Work Order Best Practices

As any running business, HOAs operate in many of the same ways. From accounting, running the day-to-day operations, or setting agendas, these are only just a few of the responsibilities that come with running an HOA. In addition to these priorities, HOAs must also manage their residents' work order requests. The sole responsibility of the HOA management company is to ensure that the community is well maintained. As a result, the organization is happy, safe, and valuable. 

Although work order requests may seem time-consuming, they are considered an advantage to the HOA. How so? Considering that HOAs will often perform maintenance checks on their own, having someone point out an issue before it gets worse can help reduce the significant effect that could result on the community — let’s not forget to mention a large amount of savings resulting from this as well. To take this into perspective, would you rather have someone point out a small leak in a pipe or a flood due to the leak? We’ll take a small leak for $500, please. 

What constitutes a work order request? 

An essential work request will often consist of the resident’s initial proposal, details about the incident, along with additional information that a servicer may need to help resolve the issue. When discussing work order requests with your community, transparency is critical. By setting specific guidelines and criteria, the HOA can avoid the “faultfinder neighbor” – that particular neighbor tends to find fault in almost everything they see. 

In most cases, an HOA will set specific guidelines so that the community is aware of what constitutes a work order request vs. neighborhood improvements. The HOA will also decide under what circumstances it is appropriate to submit a claim. 

Work order request:

A work order request is authorized maintenance, usually submitted by an HOA resident or staff member. Common requests may include a broken window, a water filter replacement, a lightbulb replacement, or anything related to the actual resident’s home or community. 

Community improvement:

A community improvement request is often made when changes that involve adding or modifying structures such as landscapes, buildings, or shared areas may be needed. In these situations, requests may be handled differently and separate from common work order requests. 

Implement a clear and easy request process:

When a resident fills out a request form, the HOA will need to provide a straightforward and easy process for completing and submitting the form. This should include a method to track the request so that the resident can know when the board will complete the request. As a result, the resident can maintain trust with the community and mitigate future issues such as poor communication. 

What to include in your request as the tenant: 
  • Be sure to leave detailed information about the location, day, and time the issue occurred.
  • Submit pictures or video if possible. 
  • Leave your detailed contact information and a second phone number if necessary.
  • Be available to answer your phone or email after submitting the request. 
  • When questioned about a maintenance request, we suggest steering away from trying to fix the issue on your own. This can lead to significant liabilities or additional costs on your part. 
  • If you’re unsure if your request constitutes an HOA work order request or a community maintenance request, we suggest submitting the request no matter what. Once submitted, your property manager will be able to direct you to the appropriate party, along with confirming how you should address the issue. 
What are the responsibilities of the HOA once the request has been submitted: 
  • The board should process the request promptly.
  • The HOA should provide consistent communication between the resident and the person in charge of fixing the issue.
  • Provide clear expectations and transparency at all times. 

Create a complete work order form that is informative for all parties involved:

A work order is only as good as the information you request. As the HOA board of directors or management company, residents must be given a complete work order form. This way, your residents can obtain the full context of the request, along with a projected time and outline of what is necessary to complete the project.

Additional request form information to include for both the tenant and HOA:
  • Who the job is being done for.
  • Where the job is being done.
  • Who authorized the work order.
  • An order number. 
  • Who the job has been assigned to.
  • When the board issued the order and when they approved.
  • Expected start and end date
  • The terms of service.
  • Description of maintenance job.
  • A list of materials used to complete the project. 
  • The cost of material, plus the hourly rate required to complete the job.

Software and work order request applications

Keep in mind that many HOAs will often use special software that allows their residents the option to fill out request forms online or through an application. For example, TownSq offers a request form feature in their application that enables the resident to see real-time updates from submitted requests and managers and board members to assign and update that request as it continues through the cycle of being completed.

TownSq Request Feature:

Benefits of the TownSq app: 

  • Easily submit maintenance request forms directly through the application. 
  • Sort the request by pending, processed, closed, and completed.
  • Work order requests can be customized to provide a detailed description, a photo if necessary, and contact information. 
  • Request forms are tracked so that the resident, board member, and manager can see the work order request's progress. 
  • Managers can receive instant notifications for their team to review.
  • Once a request is open, the management team can update the request as needed. 
  • Management teams can assign requests to the appropriate person.

Prepare a list of vendors or maintenance staff who are ready to be deployed to complete requests.

Having a vetted list of contractors and on-site maintenance staff is an integral part of maintaining work requests. To ensure work requests are kept up to standard, we suggest keeping an updated list of contacts on-hand at all times. As a result, the HOA can promptly complete the request without calling multiple contractors before addressing the issue. 

Conduct regular maintenance checks and property inspections.

As a property management company or board of directors, it is crucial to keep a close eye on the state of the community. Communities should proactively be inspected for repairs weekly or twice per month. Depending on the property, some inspections may need to be conducted more frequently, especially if an older building is prone to needing additional maintenance. 

Provide an opportunity for feedback after the order is complete

Allow residents the option to submit both positive and negative feedback. Understanding the tenant experience is a significant way to know if your HOA work order process is transparent. This will also help with improving communication and the overall strategy for all people involved. 

  • Follow up with the resident no more than three days after the project has been completed.
  • Ask for future suggestions on how to improve the process of submitting requests.
  • Provide the resident the option to schedule a follow-up phone call with a manager if needed.