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Subject: HOA provided lawn service issue..
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06/28/2006 12:12 PM  
I live in a community in Texas that contains both gated and non gated sections. As part of the bylaws, and in order for both gated and non gated residents to pay the same in HOA dues, the Association pays a landscaper to mow the front lawns of all non gated residents. However, each resident is still responsible for the maintenance of their back yard, and all flower beds, including the front yard.

The problem is that the HOA is paying $7.35/lawn, and a $7 cut is what you get. There have been numerous complaints by several residents regarding the quality of the service, and now 30 residents out of 318 in the non gated sections have discontinued the use of the lawn service. However, we are all expected to continue paying the same in HOA dues, while the HOA is putting the money for each lawn that it is not having to pay the landscaper to mow back in to the HOA. According to my research, the HOA is spending $301.35/year per lawn on mowing. Our HOA dues are $877/year, so the non gated residents could have their dues lowered to approx. $576/year by doing away with the lawn service. It's my understanding that in order to do away with the service, it would require a vote by the entire community, including the gated sections.

However, I cannot get the BOD to address this issue. The President of the board lives in the gated section, and has made it clear that he has his own agenda. When I questioned him about doing away with the lawn service, he stated that if this was done, then the non gated residents would no longer be able to use the gates as a way to enter and exit the subdivision. This would leave the non gated residents with only one entrance/exit to the community. The bylaws state the following: "The purpose of the Front Lawn Service is to provide an additional service to the Owners in Ungated Sections due to the fact that the Association bears no expenses for gate maintenance in the Ungated Sections". Reading this, I see no connection between the lawn service and the ability of the non gated residents to continue using the gates to enter and exit the community.

My question is this: How do I go about getting the Board to address this issue? I feel very certain that if the non gated residents were told that they would have their dues lowered by $300/year, and they would have control over their own lawn, that getting a majority of them to vote to do away with it would be no problem. The issue with the Board seems to be that they do not want to lose out on keeping the money from the residents that are not using the service and spending it on other things. The more people that cancel the service, the more money for them.




06/28/2006 1:11 PM  
Hi BryanD,

How do you go about it??? Look in your governing documents on the percentage necessary to amend your by-laws. Are there requirements necessary to petition the President to call for a Special Meeting of unit owners?

For example my by-laws state as follows:

Special Meetings. Following the Transition Elections, special meetings of Owners may be called by the Presient whenever he deems such a meeting advisable, or shall be called by the Secretary upon the order of the Board of Directors or upon the written request of Members representing not less than twenty-five (25%) percent of all the votes entitled to be cast at such meeting. Such request shall state the purose(s) of such meeting and the matters(s) proposed to be acted upon. Unless Owners representing at least fifty (50%) percent of all votes entitled to be cast request such a meeting, no special meeting may be called to consider any matter which is substantially the same as a matter voted upon at any meeting of the Owners held during the preceding twelve (12) months, which determination shall be made in the sole and absolute discretion of the Board of Directors.

Also look to see if doing so is something that can be changed.

25% of 318 is 80 owners. How many owners are there in the gated sections?

Cost of Lawncare:
$7.35 x # of months in landscape contract. My landscape contract is from April till Dec. or 9 months.
$7.35 x 318 = $2,337.30 x 9 month contract = $21,035.70.

I'm just wondering how you calculate the $301.35/year and the potential savings to the owners who opt out of lawncare?

My community consists of townhouses and single-family homes. We had a similar situation in an "Additional Responsbility of the Homeowner's Association". The cost of snow removal for driveways and service walks for single family homes is divisible by all members of the HOA. The HOA consists of single-family homes and townhouses because there are areas common to both the maintenance of which is covered in monthly dues. If single-family unit owners opted out of receiving the snow removal service, their maintenance contributions to the HOA still went to paying for the service to the entire community. Same thing goes for the pool we have on site, just because I don't use the pool, doesn't make me exempt from paying for it in my dues. Because by acceptance of a deed or other conveyance, the owners agreed to pay the Homeowner's Association all charges for the services outlined in the HOA governing documents.

Good luck with your endeavor!!


06/28/2006 1:34 PM  

Thanks for the response and information.

The landscaper is contracted to mow each lawn 41 times a year.

41x7.35=$301.35/per lawn, per year. That equates to over $95K in a year being spent on something that most people don't want.

I understand your comparison to the snow removal service, however, the difference is that the lawn service is not offered to the gated residents, therefore, is not considered an amenity. That's where I see the difference with the pool, which is offered to all residents. The lawn is only provided as a means to offset not having gates. My problem with the Board is that they refuse to even put this out for a vote by the residents. If the residents vote against doing away with it, then it's no longer an issue to me. I've spoken to many residents (roughly 50 out of 318) at this time who are more than willing to give up the lawn service. As a matter of fact, I haven't spoken to a single resident yet that would vote against it if it meant saving that much in hoa dues.

Again, this wouldn't be an near the issue if it wasn't for the fact that the lawn service does such a horrible job (they use commercial mowers which scalp and rip up the grass), in addition to the fact that each resident still has to either own lawn equipment to do their backyard, or pay a landscaper to do it for them. And as for switching landscapers, we are on our 3rd in 2 1/2 years. In order for the landscaper to be able to do it for that price, they have to do it quick, which means we ultimately pay the price with horrible looking front yards.



06/28/2006 2:02 PM  


I think I am caught up with what you are talking about.  If I am right the dues for the non-gated people do not include maintenance for the gates areas, that is why the gated areas are so much higher if landscaping was dissolved.

Here is my off the wall suggestion, try a compromise.  Go to the board president and say we want to get rid of the landscaper, but we are willing to pay $50 (any amount) a year per home for maintenance on the gate.  That way you get what you want, he gets what he wants (money) and everyone keeps the right to use the gate.  Obviously you still have the ability to change things according to your bylaws, but this approach is more likely to gain his attention and make it easier.





06/28/2006 7:26 PM  
If you cannot change the documents to get rid of the front lawn mowing, I would ask the board to put the landscaping company on notice (meaning they have 30 days to improve). If the quality of the mowing isn't improved, then bid for a new company and let this one go.
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