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Subject: Lawn Care Contract
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(New York)


09/16/2019 5:19 AM  
After a contentious season last year with a contractor who was underperforming, the board terminated the contractor.

In doing the bidding for a new contract we started early, involved non board members in the selection process, and picked a new lawn care contractor with a 3 year contract with a 5% increase for each year of the contract.

Last week the contractor said he wasn't making any money on the contract and didn't want to do the work any more but would finish the season. I asked our property manager to request that he let us know what kind of fee he would accept to continue with the next two years of the contract. He gave his figures which would be a 38% and 40% increase for the next two seasons.

The board obviously felt this was unreasonable and wasn't even a figure that would allow for negotiation.

The reason we did a 3 year contract was so we could have a predictable fee and not have to rebid every year.

We of course have an option to not let the company out of the contract but of course the contractor can simply default and then we are left scrambling for someone to take care of the property.

My question is why ever consider having a multi-year contract if the provider can simply quit at the end of any season?



09/16/2019 9:47 AM  
Let's hope that the board terminated the original contact, not the contractor.

My community also has multi-year contracts. However, we only move to these after a contractor has demonstrated that he does good work (usually a couple one-year contracts at the start).

The whole point of a multi-year contract is to freeze prices at current levels and maintain a relationship with a good company. However, I think most contracts have a termination clause - hopefully one of our legal folks will comment about this. So there probably is no way around it.

It looks like your second landscape company wanted to be done with your community for some reason. Either they badly underpriced their services, or something else is going on. Either way, I don't know that this would scare me away from doing multi-year contracts. Just be sure you start with single-year contracts until both parties get a better idea of whom they're working with.


09/16/2019 10:48 AM  
If the contractor is underperforming and they quit at the end of the season, either way they are in breach of contract. You have several options, you can sue them and get money back that can be used to attain a better landscaper, or you can file a complaint with your state contractor licensing board and hope the board mediates and you get a partial refund.

I can tell you this, it has been extremely hard to find a landscaping company that provides top quality work. The original landscaper hired not the brightest workers but the streets were blown with leaf blowers every week, but everything blooming got chopped to the root ball. The board hired two well known companies only to continue to have issues. now the streets aren't getting blown but the neighborhood looks like a jungle because everything is overgrown, even dog waste bins aren't getting emptied on a weekly basis.

Be very careful who you hire this time around, get references and visit those references to see how the residents appreciate the work.


09/16/2019 10:54 AM  
There's nothing wrong with multi-year contracts, but I suspect yours may have underbid the contract and now realizes it. A three-year contract might have been too much since gasoline, labor and other costs can skyrocket at any time.

Checking references next time would be a good idea - sometimes companies get lazy because they figure you have them for the next two or three years and don't have to perform as if it was the first year. You might also ask about capping an increase at a certain percentage over the first year - even if the price increases, at least you'll know by how much and can make the adjustment in your budget
(South Carolina)


09/16/2019 11:01 AM  

Time to look for a new landscaper.
(New York)


09/16/2019 12:55 PM  
Thanks everyone. We did check references which were all good. I think not going to a multi year contract the first year is sound advice.
(South Carolina)


09/16/2019 1:24 PM  
Our original landscaping contract was for one year with each party having a 90 day cancellation notice. After that, it continued automatically. Been with them for 4 years. Never had a price increase but each year we have them do some non contract, chargeable jobs so they make money with us.

Our MC contract is basically the same and we have had them for 4 years also. Never had a price increase from them either.

They both say we are a pleasure to do business with.

(North Carolina)


09/16/2019 2:52 PM  

The landscaper won the bid and low-bid it. You don't want that company serving your property beyond year's end but get to work to bid and select a new vendor. Don't waste the time trying to enforce the service contract.

Above all, don't accept low bidders blindly in the future. Long-tenured companies, w/ experience dealing w/ HOA drama, can be worth the extra funds. Too many small companies like the idea of serving a large property but cannot handle it.
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