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Subject: Landscaping damage resolution procedures
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DavidG45
(Delaware)

Posts:33


10/27/2020 5:33 AM  
I am on the board of a new community in which the HOA provides landscaping services. Currently we have no guidelines for how to have your lawn prepared for lawn service, and so you have things such as rose bushes planted smack in the middle of the lawn with no mulch bed, or landscape lights on the edge of a flower bed or even on the grass. Unsurprisingly, each week a couple owners report damaged shrubs, broken landscape lights, etc. The resolution procedure right now is that the property manager reports the problem to the landscape company, who then argues it out with the property owner. This seems like a less than optimal system.

I am currently preparing a Landscaping Guideline manual that will describe what owners should do in order to get better service with less damage, which should help. But I feel we need some kind of document "problem resolution procedure" that explains what the landscaper is and is not responsible for.

Does anybody have some ideas or examples of how this ought to work?
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3577


10/27/2020 6:06 AM  
In addition to educating homeowners on what services are and aren't provided by the association, you may need to set some standards as to what is and isn't allowed on the lawn. For example, those rose bushes may need to be closer to the house or certain types of landscaping lights may need to be prohibited because they get in the way of a landscaping worker with a riding mower (that's what they use in m community).

If people want this stuff on their lawn, it should be THEIR responsibility to make sure the stuff doesn't get in the way of the landscapers - otherwise, they're responsible for damages because they knew about the lawnmowing service and had to know a rose bush smack in the middle of the lawn could be a problem. Or you can cut out the lawnmowing services altogether and let the homeowners be responsible for that too - then they can put whatever on their lawn - within reason, of course.

For problem resolution, I would insist on proof that the landscaping company is at fault - time and date stamped photos of the area before and after the damage would be a start. Don't tell me homeowners can't do this - you take a photo with your cell phone and if you don't see any problems after the landscapers come through, simply delete it. These days more and more people have Ring or similar systems that can pick up footage.

You shouldn't have forever to file a complaint - if the landscapers came through on, say Monday, and were there from 2 pm to 6 pm, I would expect the property manager to get the complaint no later than 72 hours (3 days) after that. They can do this via email or a phone call - preferably both, so you don't get arguments over if/when a complaint was received.

You should also talk to the vendor about preventing problems - I'm sure this isn't the first time they've received complaints like this. There's also the chance they have workers who are simply being careless, running down a bush because they were in a hurry - and it was big enough to be seen, so they could have gone around it. As soon as something breaks, they need to stop and photograph it (time and date stamped again) to protect themselves. Perhaps they should say something like "if you have landscaping lights so high" or plants in the middle of your lawn, we won't mow that lawn at all - the homeowner will have to call us and make arrangements so the work can get done without damaging the area.

By now, you may have enough complaints to notice certain trends that might justify the board establishing standards as to what is and isn't allowed on the lawn. For instance, you might have to say shrubs need to be planted closer to the house so they don't get run over or limit the number of landscaping lights. Conduct a poll among the homeowners to see what they think or charter an advisory committee to explore the issue in-depth and it can make recommendations to the board. Perhaps certain exterior changes will need prior approval by the board via an exterior change request - check your documents to see what it says, as you may already have the power to do that.



JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10130


10/27/2020 10:26 AM  
My HOA is responsible for landscaping and we do not allow any owner to place anything that would get in the way of the landscaper. No plantings, no lights, no decorations, etc. Real simple.

The main reason being the landscaper would have to take more time to avoid such and end up having to use hand tools (weed whackers, etc.) to avoid such thus more labor hours, thus higher landscaping costs.
DavidG45
(Delaware)

Posts:33


10/27/2020 10:54 AM  
That is what I am in the process of doing - creating guidelines that eliminate obstacles for the landscapers. So when an owner has something damaged that did not meet the guidelines the problem resolution will be simple.

My question has more to do with those areas that become more questionable, that are not possible to predict. What is the process for deciding whether or not the owner is reimbursed for damage?
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:403


10/27/2020 11:25 AM  
Posted By DavidG45 on 10/27/2020 10:54 AM
That is what I am in the process of doing - creating guidelines that eliminate obstacles for the landscapers. So when an owner has something damaged that did not meet the guidelines the problem resolution will be simple.

My question has more to do with those areas that become more questionable, that are not possible to predict. What is the process for deciding whether or not the owner is reimbursed for damage?




In our community we do not get involved in ANY claim from an owner who thinks a contractor broke something. This includes landscapers. Our position is this is why we require all contractors to be licensed and insured. The owner and the contractor fight it out. Obviously, if a contractor is repeatedly breaking things this may lead us to drop them from working here. For landscaping, we made our position known to the landscape company and told them we expect them to deal with these situations. So far we've had two broken glass doors and it was handled between the landscaper and the owners without us having to step in.
DavidG45
(Delaware)

Posts:33


10/27/2020 11:36 AM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 10/27/2020 11:25 AM
Posted By DavidG45 on 10/27/2020 10:54 AM
That is what I am in the process of doing - creating guidelines that eliminate obstacles for the landscapers. So when an owner has something damaged that did not meet the guidelines the problem resolution will be simple.

My question has more to do with those areas that become more questionable, that are not possible to predict. What is the process for deciding whether or not the owner is reimbursed for damage?




In our community we do not get involved in ANY claim from an owner who thinks a contractor broke something. This includes landscapers. Our position is this is why we require all contractors to be licensed and insured. The owner and the contractor fight it out. Obviously, if a contractor is repeatedly breaking things this may lead us to drop them from working here. For landscaping, we made our position known to the landscape company and told them we expect them to deal with these situations. So far we've had two broken glass doors and it was handled between the landscaper and the owners without us having to step in.




Thanks. I like that approach.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9714


10/27/2020 12:58 PM  
Landscaping is our only responsibility. That is why we ONLY hire licensed/insured contractors. We can't make people always to the right things about landscaping. However, if it's lawncare issue we refer them to the lawncare contractor. That is what they carry insurance for.

BTW: Do NOT believe for 1 second your lawncare contractor will know how to identify a "flower". They don't know nor care. So let that be known to others that IF you plant something "special" identify it as such or out of the lawnmowers way. Believe me, had plenty of flowers destroyed by lawncare thinking they could recognize a "flower".

Former HOA President
DavidG45
(Delaware)

Posts:33


10/27/2020 1:08 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 10/27/2020 12:58 PM
Landscaping is our only responsibility. That is why we ONLY hire licensed/insured contractors. We can't make people always to the right things about landscaping. However, if it's lawncare issue we refer them to the lawncare contractor. That is what they carry insurance for.

BTW: Do NOT believe for 1 second your lawncare contractor will know how to identify a "flower". They don't know nor care. So let that be known to others that IF you plant something "special" identify it as such or out of the lawnmowers way. Believe me, had plenty of flowers destroyed by lawncare thinking they could recognize a "flower".




Thanks. So it really comes down to, if the homeowners decide they are unhappy with the service, then they can ask the board to consider hiring a new company. I see the advantage to that approach.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10130


10/27/2020 1:42 PM  
Our largest complaints relate to landscapers with most of it more personal taste (they edge to much, they trim the bushes to much, they cut to low/high, etc.) then actual damage.

Listen to this story. All of our backyards are surrounded by a 6-7ft high privacy fence. One owner complained that his patio glass door was cracked and it must be the landscaper's fault. That discharge from the mower hit his patio door. Our landscaper uses mulching mowers so there is basically no discharge. To have happened the mower would have to had "thrown/discharged" a rock over the 6-7ft high fence with enough velocity to then travel 25 feet and hit the patio glass. The owner confronted the landscaper. Our landscaper is told not to respond to any owner questioning them and refer all to the BOD. We ruled it not the landscaper's fault.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9714


10/27/2020 2:56 PM  
Let me add do NOT get tempted in signing multi-year contracts with lawncare. It does NOT mean you can't keep the SAME contractor every year. It just means that if you hire a bad one, your not stuck in a contract for multiple years. Plus it allows for new negotiations on the new contract.

For me, I had a map of the entire HOA. With that map I detailed the lawncare needs and wants of each lot owner. I could then give that list to the contractor to reference and the BOD. It helpful tool to use when interviewing contractors as well. You may find some owners want more than they need so making an approved list limits crossing some lines.

We also allowed the owner to pay for above normal services with the lawncare SEPARATELY from the lawncare contract. Let's say they want their bushes trimmed but not in contract. The owner can if contractor likes, pay them separately for the additional work. This would be between lawncare and contractor NOT the HOA.

Lawncare is complicated so do get multiple bids. Define your needs. Be aware of where the lines lay between HOA responsibility and lawncare contractor. The HOA may act as a mediator between owner/contractor. It doesn't mean taking on the responsibility.


Former HOA President
BrookeW
(Florida)

Posts:7


11/11/2020 7:11 AM  
I had to deal with severe damages to my property and was given a hefty reimbursment by https://secureconv-wh.com/?a=121597&c=227604 Hope this helps!
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:3411


11/11/2020 8:30 AM  
Moderator - please remove BrookeW.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:4158


11/13/2020 12:11 PM  
Posted By BrookeW on 11/11/2020 7:11 AM
I had to deal with severe damages to my property and was given a hefty reimbursment by Hope this helps!

Spammers are usually stupid. Are you really stupid, Brooke? Or just regular stupid?
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