Friday, February 19, 2016

As Bad as it Gets: Feeling Blue About Amber Property Management in Mission Viejo, CA

I'm a board member at Del Prado HOA in Laguna Niguel. I cannot begin to convey my frustration with a low-quality, incompetent, family-run property management company called Amber Property Management located in Mission Viejo, CA. 

As I understand it, one of their most dissatisfied customers is planning a lawsuit against them. If you would like to be part of that effort, they are encouraging you to contact them at vusteven.ghr@gmail.com.  

Most recently, they failed to send the required Call for Candidates statement to approximately 10% of our community members. 

To make matters worse, Pam Morris, 73, Amber's CEO, made a decision to send out a letter notifying our members that the annual meeting had been cancelled and that a new election was being scheduled. To my utter shock, she did this prior to obtaining the lawful approval of the board of directors. 

Then, Amber Property Management scheduled an "emergency meeting" for the Del Prado the board of directors. They notified me that I was supposed to participate in a telephone conference, but they sent me the wrong telephone number and the wrong entry code. 

I am so frustrated with Amber Property Management that I have filed two separate complaints against them with the California Associations Institute (CAI) for failing to follow proper ethical standards.  

Right now, about 20% of us live in HOA run communities. I think we are just starting to learn the dangers of these HOAs and the techniques needed to protect ourselves. I think part of the problem is that we expect retail-level customer service from property management companies, but we end up getting government-level customer service instead. Even so, a property management company that provides poor customer service shouldn't make things worse by failing to follow the rules and regulations in the HOA's CC&Rs.


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LAGUNA NIGUEL, CA - MARCH 16, 2016 - I think I'm at my wits end with Amber Property Management. According to our HOA's CC&R's, Amber Property Management is supposed to let our homeowners know exactly the Article and Section of the CC&R which has been broken by the homeowners whenever they send out a violation letter. Amber Property Management has been failing to follow this procedure despite repeated reminders that this behavior is against our regulations. I've found two letters like this signed by Liza Salinas and one letter like this signed by Jamie Hackwith. At the very least, Amber Property Management should follow the law. I don't think anyone is safe when a rogue property management company is in charge of your HOA's most important duties.

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Below, I have included a copy of the two complaints against Amber Property Management that I recently submitted to the CAI for review. I'll keep you informed about what is going on. If you live in an HOA, you might find it useful to review these complaints so you can be on-guard against similar problems in the future.


Narrative Summary of Allegations Against Pam Morris of Amber Property Management
By John C. Drew, Ph.D.

I’m alleging that Pam Morris, CEO, Amber Property Management violated at least three sections of the CAI Professional Code of Ethics. Here is the background.

Staff at Amber Property Management sent out a Call to Candidates for an upcoming election to the Board of Directors of Del Prado HOA. One of the people most interested in running for the Board of Directors, Ashlie Hadley, did not receive a copy of the Call for Candidates documents even though it had been promised to her in the newsletter. Ms. Hadley has attended all board meetings for the last year and a half and was highly interested in running for one of the three open seats. After Ms. Hadley failed to turn in a form announcing her candidacy and her name was not included in the ballot materials sent to her fellow homeowners. After the ballots were mailed out, Ms. Hadley complained that she did not receive a copy of the Call for Candidates documents.

According to Amber Property Management, the reason why Ms. Hadley did not receive a copy of the Call for Candidates documents is that she elected to receive her communications from Amber Property Management by e-mail. Amber Property Management reports that it did not send the Call for Candidates document to any of our members who elected to receive their information by e-mail. By not sending Ms. Hadley a Call for Candidates document, AmberProperty Management violated Section 5 of the CAI Professional Code of Ethics by failing to “...exercise due care and perform planning and supervision as specified in the written management agreement, job description or duly adopted Board policies.” This lack of due care was so great that at least 42 homeowners or approximately 10% of our members did not receive the Call for Candidate document.

Moreover, Ms. Morris violated Section 8 for the CAI Professional Code of Ethics by failing to “Insure that homeowners receive timely notice as required by state statutes or legal documents and protect their right of appeal.”

Without seeking the approval of the full board of directors in either a special meeting or an emergency meeting, Ms. Morris issued a statement announcing the cancellation of the March 8, 2016 Annual Meeting. This statement was postmarked February 16, 2016. I have attached a copy of this document and the envelope it came in. I allege that Ms. Morris violated Section 3 of the CAI Professional Code of Ethics which says she must: “Act in the best interests of the client; refrain from making inaccurate or misleading representations or statements; not knowingly misrepresent facts to benefit the Manager.” Specifically, she violated our Del Prado HOA bylaws which do not allow for the cancellation of the annual meeting at all. In addition, she violated our Del Prado HOA bylaws by sending a 2nd Call for Candidates without obtaining a decision to authorize that mailing from the full Board of Directors of Del Prado HOA.


In summary, I am alleging that Pam Morris gravely her violated the CAI Professional Code of Ethics by 1) failing to properly notify members and provide them with the documents needed to run for a seat on the Board of Directors, 2) announcing the cancellation of the annual meeting in violation of Del Prado HOA bylaws and 3) cancelling the annual meeting prior to obtaining authority from the Board of Directors to take this unprecedented action.

Narrative Summary of Allegations Against Pam Morris of Amber Property Management
March 12, 2016

I’m alleging that Pam Morris, CEO, Amber Property Management violated at least two sections of the CAI Professional Code of Ethics. Here is the background.

Staff at Amber Property Management have sent out violation letters which do not follow the procedures established by the Del Prado HOA Board of Directors. According to the Del Prado Homeowners Association Enforcement and Fine Policy (Adopted by the Board of Directors on February 6, 2003) the property management company is required to do the following:

Upon notification or observation of a violation of the restrictions as set forth in the Declaration of Restrictions, Management will send out a notice of violation citing the actual violation, the article and section of the Declaration of Restrictions being violated and a reasonable time period in which to correct the violation.

Despite repeated warnings, Ms. Morris has disregarded these stipulations by failing to include in our violation letters the “the article and section of the Declaration of Restrictions being violated.” There is some sloppiness in her work since some letters, in the very same batch, will be done correctly while other letters will be done incorrectly.

By failing to follow our Del Prado HOA policies, Ms. Morris has  violated Section 5 of the CAI Professional Code of Ethics by failing to “...exercise due care and perform planning and supervision as specified in the written management agreement, job description or duly adopted Board policies.”

In addition, she has also violated Section 8 for the CAI Professional Code of Ethics by failing to “Insure that homeowners receive timely notice as required by state statutes or legal documents and protect their right of appeal.”

In summary, I am alleging that Pam Morris of Amber Property Management and the CAI certified staff members working for her violated the CAI Code of Ethics by routinely failing to issue violation letters that included the article and section of the Declaration of Restrictions being violated as required by our legal documents. This complaint of an ethics violation has been filed because of the persistence of this unlawful behavior in the face of repeated reminders and warnings from me.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

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