Senior Couple Walking in a park

Managing Active Senior Communities

Active adult communities do not differ structurally from other residential HOAs, aside from their age requirements. The differentiation lies in what services they deem most important. It is critically important to address these factors when both marketing to and managing age restricted associations.

Active adult communities are designed with a retirement friendly, low maintenance lifestyle in mind. Interior maintenance and daily upkeep are the responsibility of the homeowner, but it is the responsibility of the management company to maintain the exteriors. Therefore, a knowledge of low maintenance exterior design is helpful when determining handicap accessibility, patios, decks, landscapes, driveways, and walkways. Many communities may also have lakes and or wooded walking trails. Understanding the design, upkeep and maintenance of these features can impact risk mitigation, property value and maintenance costs.

Active adults have worked many years, raised families, and are now eager for opportunities to exercise, socialize and relax. Community amenities deem high on the list of importance: pools, club houses, fitness centers, bocce and shuffleboard courts, tennis, golf and quality restaurant options are all priorities. A management company should demonstrate experience managing these type amenities. Additionally, scoping a long-term plan to improve the current options and propose additional features. Management companies may even play a part in coordinating group trips and club events hence you may wish to look for a management company with experience in event planning.

Many properties employee front gate, pool, restaurant, and pro shop personnel. Clearly define the role your management company will play in overseeing employees including payroll, hiring practices and employee reviews. Especially important in senior-living communities is an onsite presence by the management company. Many prefer to report maintenance requests, submit payments, or address account issues in person. Management companies that emphasize technology, utilizing electronic communications such as email, online submissions, and text only, may not be the best choice for managing active adult communities. The watch out here for management companies, is to balance the hours of on-site personnel with the minimum that is required. Often, on site office staff can become distracted when seniors ‘stop in’ to chat too often. This effects office efficiency and is not in the best interest financially of the management company or association.

A unique characteristic of senior living residents is they will be involved! Unlike urban high-rises geared towards young professionals, these active adults have time. Many have had lifelong careers in construction, finance, law, etc. and the homeowners tend to be very active on their boards. Any management company must recognize they are coming on as a business partner and manage accordingly. Most boards are knowledgeable and prefer to take a dominate role in managing.

All associations have rules and regulations; however, it does seem active adult communities can be exceptionally proscriptive. Violation management is important. Property managers should possess good communication and conflict resolution skills. Seniors have more time than most to notice all indiscretions. They all will be noted and frequently reported. Individual residents can also feel quite differently about the rules, and for whom they apply. These friction points can focus on how residents decorate their homes, guest policies, pets etc. Disagreements can get contentious and conflict resolution, controlling meetings and diffusing situations is a must.

Service is important in most industries, however, is a necessity when managing seniors, and especially aging seniors. These residents have worked hard and have earned the privilege of relaxing and enjoying their later years. It is important that any management company recognizes this and treats all their residents with the respect and service they so deserve. As a community ages, it is important for a management company to coordinate care services with their local towns and healthcare professionals.

Lastly, our world moves fast these days. It can seem overwhelming to boards. Boards and homeowners need to trust and feel a general connection to their property manager and/or management company. Once this is established, a positive and long-lasting relationship is achieved.