Love them or loathe them, more than 68 million Americans now live in community associations.
Most residents (87% according to CAI) report being satisfied with the job that their association does to maintain their home’s value. However, in spite of our best efforts, the image most often associated with a monthly HOA meeting is a very vocal, very dissatisfied resident arguing with the members of the Board.
Any guesses about the topic most likely to be at the center of that argument?
Ding, ding, ding. If you said “landscaping”, you’re 100% correct.
And that’s exactly why it’s critically important that your HOA has an effective Landscape Maintenance Committee in place.
Regardless of the size of your community’s common areas, or the dollar amount of your HOA’s landscape maintenance budget, a committee formed with the sole purpose of watching over your landscape(and your commercial landscape contractor) is a huge asset to your association.
Landscape maintenance committees are typically assembled as a “standing” committee, meaning that they will regularly meet to handle ongoing tasks. For a specific, landscaping-related project, especially one with a significant price tag attached to it, like a large-scale rejuvenation and replanting project, you may wish to consider forming a special “ad hoc” committee, which only exists for the duration of that project.
While landscape maintenance committees aren’t required to include a member of the elected HOA board, having an elected community leader in the group will create a more effective committee. Including a Board Member will help the committee stay within its defined responsibilities, and keep it from being pulled off task by other volunteer members coming to the group with their own agendas and aesthetic preferences.
The size of the committee can vary widely, but for even the largest communities there is rarely a need for more than 5 members in a landscape maintenance committee. Members of the committee are free to contribute as much time as their schedules allow, but the most effective committees will hold formal meetings where they discuss their findings, outside of the monthly HOA Board meeting. If volunteers can’t commit the time that will be needed, it’s best to keep the group smaller and filled with only the most engaged members.
Your landscape maintenance committee should be created by your elected Board with an explicit purpose to execute a specific set of duties. Committees operate best when given a defined set of tasks for which they are responsible each month. While they don’t have the authority to act without the Board’s approval, they are still very important to the association, especially when you consider that for most community associations, landscaping and grounds maintenance is the largest annually budgeted expense.
Some of the responsibilities often assigned to Landscape Committees include:
- Creating recommendations for the Board on landscaping improvements within the community.
- Communicating with representatives from the community’s landscape maintenance provider.
- Inspecting the work performed by the community’s landscape maintenance provider.
- Suggesting additions and amendments to the community’s landscape maintenance program.
- Evaluating RFP responses, checking references, and conducting contractor interviews when selecting a new commercial landscape maintenance provider for the community.
- Providing monthly summary updates to the Board on landscaping and grounds maintenance issues.
While a landscape maintenance committee doesn’t remove the ultimate responsibility for the appearance of the community’s landscape from the Board, an effective landscape committee can certainly make the Board’s job much easier.
For more ideas on HOA Committees, this article from First Service Residential is a great resource.
Photo image credit: Pixabay