When you work for an homeowner’s association (HOA), you work for a board, but you are also working among every single homeowner on that site.
And, unfortunately, not all of them are a joy to work for.
Some may question everything you do, some may disagree with how you handle a certain area even when the board has already approved it, others may want special treatment near their homes, and some may never leave your crews alone, always requesting special favors.
That leaves you to wonder: How do you enforce HOA landscaping rules and regulations without being a menace to the neighborhood?
Don’t panic. We’re here to make this process easier for you. Let’s look at some things you can do when you’re a property manager of an HOA and need commercial landscaping in Chicago.
How to Manage HOA Landscape Communities and HOA Landscape Disputes
An HOA landscape maintenance contract is usually signed by the area’s homeowners association and the landscape maintenance company doing the work. As such, it must be thorough, detailed, and understood by both parties. You have standards on your HOA property, and the contract should represent them.
These are some of the best ways to handle landscaping policy disputes on your HOA properties.
Make Sure Service and Scope Are Clear
For clarity and to ensure it’s clear between you and the HOA board, your HOA landscaping professional must detail all the basic services they will perform, in what locations (common areas and individual properties or just common areas, for instance, as you’ll read about in the next tip) and any additional value included.
This includes mowing, edging, fertilization, pruning, mulch installation, and spring and fall cleanups. Edging and pruning should be mentioned as included services, so you aren’t nickeled and dimed for these tasks later.
Outline your expectations for how you like your lawn mowed, as well as any specifics necessary for special areas. For pruning, outline areas that are important for visibility that you’d like kept clear.
Cleanup may involve removing fallen branches, as well as picking up trash in common areas. Think about what areas you’d like freshly mulched each year and how often you want them mulched to keep your property looking sharp.
Frequency is also important to discuss. Mowing may be weekly, but pruning may be something you want done when there is overgrowth.
These are details a landscape professional should be happy to discuss with you so expectations are clear. This can keep conversations between you and any HOA residents clear because everything is outlined and nothing is left out. This also means nothing can be misinterpreted.
Use a Map to Outline Specific Maintenance Areas
An HOA, as you know, is a unique and complicated commercial property. And you determine key HOA landscaping maintenance services based on areas that your service professional must maintain.
For instance, on some HOA properties, common areas are the focus, and individual yards are left to the care of homeowners. On other HOAs, the maintenance fees include grass trimming of individual front yards, as well as common or shared areas, while back and side yards are left to homeowners to manage themselves.
Make sure your agreement with your commercial landscape professional outlines which areas you want maintained and which ones you don’t. A community map can help you easily outline these goals and clearly mark them so there’s no confusion.
Landscape Master Plans and Rules Help Avoid HOA Landscaping Disputes
An HOA attracts residents and retains them by having a look and feel that is all its own.
As such, an HOA landscaping should outline specifics in landscape design and maintenance that are important to the HOA’s brand and reputation.
For instance, you may want to provide your landscape services professional with a master plan that dictates a plant palette that you want them – and the homeowners – to adhere to. This keeps the community uniform and consistent. If you don’t have a master plan like this, your landscape professional should be able to help you create one.
Communication and Partnership Keeps Landscaping Policy Disputes to a Minimum
It’s natural that HOA residents will ask questions and nitpick services when your landscaping crews are working on the site.
Make sure your HOA landscaping maintenance contract includes ways for property owners to talk with the landscape company to correct problems or answer questions. This ensures everyone is happy with the process and knows how to respond or take action when necessary.
Your landscape professional should know how to work with and respond to your HOA board members, as well as homeowners, to maintain the property and community relationships.
This can be a tricky area. You may have one resident that likes to talk to the landscape professional every week, while others leave them be. Maybe they have a tree they don't want pruned or other special requests.
Your landscape professional should be able to keep the peace, making residents happy, while also getting their jobs done – and done well. We know that when your residents are happy, your board is happy.
It’s also helpful if the same crew leaders and crews are on your property regularly because they know it best and can build those relationships, remembering key areas of concern around specific residents’ homes.
Limit Landscaping Policy Disputes With the Right Commercial Contractor
You can never ask too many questions when finding a partner for your HOA landscaping services.
It’s important that you develop a good relationship to ensure sticky issues don’t result when HOA residents interact with your crews. Don’t be afraid to drill down and analyze bids so you feel confident when you make your final decision.
This kind of trust goes a long way in keeping the process smooth throughout the season.
We understand it can be hard to find the right partner that truly understands the unique challenges of your HOA. But the work must get done, and KD Landscape wants to help you make the most informed and best decision for you.
Want to learn more about our HOA landscape maintenance services in Greater Chicago? Get started today with a free quote. We’ll review your options together so you can feel confident and make a great choice.