May an Owner Talk to HOA or Condo Vendors?

An owner wanted to know the answer to this question:

“Does a homeowner have the right to contact the association’s vendors directly?”

The answer is, as commonly occurs, “It depends.”

She said:  ” What they do in our association is tell the vendors to NOT talk to any homeowners.  Sounds like a dictatorship to me ….”

First of all, it’s not indicative of a “dictatorship.” There may be other factors that make it seem so, … but no …

In most cases, owners talking to or even using the same vendors that the HOA or Condo uses does not cause a problem. If you want to know more though, about what problems can arise, there is a Primer on my website that covers choosing and evaluating vendors that talks about this to some degree. Here are the concerns that may lead to a “yes” or “no” answer:

Your Condo Assn. may prefer that owners use the same vendors if the owner has a project or repair to be done because the vendors are bonded, licensed and insured completely, and are trustworthy and good at what they do.

Your Condo Assn. may prefer that owners NOT use the same vendors because vendors are not always capable of keeping the Condo assn. contract work separate from an owner’s contract work. If there is any confusion over who fixes what, and the HOA/Condo contractor does repairs in an owner’s unit, and the owner refuses to pay, then the contractor is likely to turn to the HOA/Condo for payment. If the contractor does a bad job, the owner is likely to turn to the HOA to get satisfaction.

Your Condo Assn. may not ever have had a problem with owners communicating with vendors.

Your Condo Assn. may have a history of problems stemming from owners contacting, harassing, or bothering vendors, or vendors complaining about owner interference on the job, or something like that.

You as an owner may feel that you know more than the vendor does about the business or repair they are hired to address, and want to “supervise” the hiree, when the board does not want that.

Your Condo Assn. may dislike you very much and be picking on you because you have done something in the past to make the board look at you differently than at others, or the board may be “jaded” or influenced against you for whatever reason.

The fact that this person feels the Condo board is acting like a “dictatorship” indicates a strong likelihood that there has been considerable negative energy (and probably words, complaints, and perhaps even threats) passed back and forth historically.

So, now you have to “do the analysis” about why the board in your Condo Assn. might set such a rule, if it has.

And once you know the “why”, you probably know the answer to the question. As to whether the Board has the right to forbid vendors from talking to owners, the answer to that question is “yes, it has the right to make that part of “the deal”.

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