Friday, March 22, 2013

Feeling Blue About Amber Property Management in Mission Viejo

I guess I had an intuition this year that I needed to get more involved in politics at the local level, the extremely local level. I'm running for one of the worst jobs in America - a spot on my HOA board of directors.

I'm running for a position on my HOA's board of directors, in part, because I got fed up with the way that Amber Property Management was picking on me. They have been driving me nuts with their arrogant attitudes, their barely disguised contempt for me and my neighbors, and a level of sloppiness and careless that I find to be both disconcerting and potentially dangerous. A quick Google search reveals I'm not the only one fed up with their bizarre behavior, and their inadequate attention to procedures and details.

One of the most disturbing mistakes occurred this month when I got a letter dated March 13, 2013 asking me to take out the safety lighting sensor on my building. Since this sensor - which controls the building's outdoor lighting - was near my front door, they concluded that it was some sort of spy camera or other device I had installed without their permission. See their letter below:

Letter from the HOA Board of Directors asking me to remove the
building's safety lighting sensor dated March 13, 2013.
I, of course, immediately fired off an indignant complaint daring them to touch even the tiniest cord in this lighting sensor without my express permission. Even so, it took them a couple of days to figure out their foolishness and to send a follow up letter to letting me know that the safety light sensor was safe.

New letter from Jamie Hackwith of Amber Property Management indicating
that my safety light sensor was now safe from destruction at the hands of the HOA.

Sadly, the list of errors caused by Amber Property Management goes on and on. Just this month, they failed to properly notice the board of directors meeting. They put up a sign that indicated the date of the meeting was in the previous month, not the current month.

In 2016, I caught our Amber Property Management representative, Jamie Hackwith, sending out violation letters that violated our own rules. These rules call for the violation letter to indicate the exact rule broken by the homeowner or their tenant. Instead, the letters coming from Amber Property Management made only vague charges against the homeowner or tenant.

One of the most disgusting things about Amber Property Management is that when I have complained about them to the Better Business Bureau or some other agency, they have routinely sent a letter threatening legal action against me. 

Clearly, their aim is to intimidate me into silence. I talked to two homeowners just this month that cannot stand Jamie Hackwith. One called me in tears to report that Jamie insulted her by saying he understood she had an "angle" when she called to get information. Another homeowner just shared with me that when he speaks to Jamie Hackwith, Hackwith makes him feel like the homeowner is working for Amber Property Management rather than the other way around.

Luckily, there are now many avenues available for complaining about your HOA or property management company. I found, for example, that you can read the complaints of others and add your own at In addition, Google+ also gives you an opportunity to tell the truth about your HOA services. In my case, I'm lucky enough to have this blog and about 100,000 thousand followers on Twitter. All of this means that consumers have more power to fight back when they are mistreated or, as in my case, mistakenly blamed for an eyesore that was installed two years earlier by their own HOA.

I should probably add in the end of the story. We had a terrifying brush fire on our Del Prado property on June 29, 2017. Personally, I blamed Jamie Hackwith and the landscaping company, Douglas Landscaping. As far as we know, this fire was caused by a spark coming off the mower used to do a fuel reduction project on our western slope. Ideally, this work should have been scheduled a month earlier when the fire danger would have been lower.

At any rate, on-line court records show that Jamie's wife, Tracey, filed for divorce on July 13, 2017. Tracey is the daughter of the owner of Amber Property Management. We got the news that Jamie would no longer be our property manager at Del Prado through an e-mail from Tracey Hackwith that was dated August 14, 2017.

All in all, this experience reminded me of why it is important to avoid smaller companies that are rife with nepotism. Virtually no one knows how to deal with employees who are family members. In general, they are poor performers and difficult to fire. In fact, in this case, they may have been easier to divorce than to fire.

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


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John C. Drew, Ph.D. said...

FYI: Here's a sample of the sort of complaints I receive about Amber Property Management as a board member.

Now my main issue is with Amber Property Management, I think they are rude and pretty much useless. Also back in the days I got fined because somebody didn't like my patio light so I changed it out, but now a days I do not feel like anybody walks this neighbor hood looking for violations. My neighbor across the way has such an unsightly patio with weeds, trash and a palm tree that needs to be cut back so bad that there is a family of rats living in it. But Amber management told me I have to take pictures and send a certified letter to the owner before I can bring it up to the board? Seriously???? My other neighbors start smoking pot around 12-3 p.m. everyday on their patio and it comes in my unit. But I can't say anything because they are intimidating. In essence, I live surrounded by renters who feel free to do what they want, when they want and how they want. I walked by my neighbors today and there are soda cans, a broken chair and about three months of leaflets piling up on his patio! What happened to this place!

jade said...

You may want to speak with other owners on that company's program, get professional references and see if that company has a good or bad reputation in the community. Energy property Norman Oklahoma

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