We Like This Manager, But Are They Qualified?

community managers greatest hits h o a homefront Apr 15, 2019

Previous columns addressed management options and contracts. After selecting the desired type of management services, how can a board know if a manager prospect is qualified?

California managers are unregulated, with no required license or minimum education. Rental managers must have real estate broker licenses, but not HOA managers. There is a wide range of qualification and experience in the field, and credentials indicate experience and commitment to the management profession.

Certified Common Interest Development

Business and Professions Code 11502 allows one to be called a “Certified Common Interest Development Manager” after 30 class hours in certain topics from a professional association of common interest development managers. Section 11504 requires managers to annually disclose whether they qualify as “Certified” and prohibits managers from falsely claiming to be certified. While certification is not mandatory, the disclosure is.

The organizations educating and credentialing California managers are the Institute of Real Estate Management (“IREM”); California Association of Community Managers (“CACM”), Community Association Manager International Certification Board (“CAMICB”), and the Community Associations Institute (“CAI“).


IREM is a national organization, with about 18,000 manager members, offering education and credentials regarding all forms of property management. Although its managers are mostly non-residential, over 300 of its members in California hold a residential management credential called the “Accredited Residential Manager (ARM)”. The ARM requires 44 class hours in either rental property management or CID management. The ARM does not qualify for “Certified” status in California.


CACM is a California organization, founded in 1991 by a group of veteran managers. 1,618 active managers currently hold CACM’s primary credential, the Certified Community Association Manager (“CCAM”). The CCAM involves 34 class hours and qualifies managers as “Certified” under the Business and Professions Code.


CAMICB administers the “Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA”)” credential. Originally affiliated with CAI when formed in 1995, the organization is an independent credentialing body today. Attaining the CMCA requires two and a half days of instruction. Approximately 1,200 CMCA managers are active in California. About 20,000 have received this designation around the world.


The Community Associations Institute consists of 64 chapters, including 8 in California. Founded in 1973, CAI provides manager training in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. CAI offers three credentials, the “Association Management Specialist (AMS)”, “Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM)” and the “Large-Scale Manager (LSM)”. CAI also offers a full-day course on California HOA law for managers. The AMS credential requires attaining the CMCA credential, two years’ experience, and two more days’ classes, and 637 California managers currently hold this credential. Managers holding the AMS designation qualify as “Certified” in California after taking CAI’s California law course.

The gold standard of management credentials is CAI’s PCAM designation. This requires five years’ experience, almost 100 total class hours, and preparation of a 100-200 page exhaustive case study of a large HOA. About 80% of applicants achieve the PCAM on their first attempt. 295 California managers currently hold this credential. Larger or higher profile properties may prefer PCAMs or those working toward it. The LSM credential requires a PCAM and additional education regarding large associations.

Ask about credentials, and make sure YOUR manager holds the credential (not someone else in the office). Demonstrated commitment to professional education should be important in evaluating prospective managers.

Written by Kelly G. Richardson

Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Partner of Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to [email protected]. Past columns at www.hoahomefront.com. All rights reserved®.