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r/HOA
19
Posted by1 month ago

HOA Rep admitted they pay lawn service 4x the amount a homeowner would pay.

I don't know if this is normal, something I should be worried about or something to fight?

Should I look into who the lawn service company is and if there are any relations?

Should I bring it up to a HOA community meeting?

50 comments
81% Upvoted
level 1

a HOA might have to pay more than a homeowner would pay for comparable work because it seems that HOAs have a bad reputation with lawn service providers.

not sure the size of your community, but i'm in a small 14 single family home neighborhood. It is amazingly difficult to find a lawn service for our common areas. We are on our 3rd in 10 years because they keep dropping us. We don't complain, we pay timely (and even upfront with our first service), we don't talk down or negotiate the rate. The second company we used straight up told us that there was nothing wrong with our HOA yet, but that they were switching to only servicing individual homeowners because of trouble dealing with other associations. The first service dropped us for being too small because they were going to focus on their larger clients. The service we have now is literally a father and son team. It has been going fine for 3 seasons now, but the guy is looking old and I'm not sure if the kid intends on taking over or moving on.

15
level 1
· 1 mo. ago
🏘 HOA Board Member

Before you go snooping about "relations" just remember, HOA money is your money - they likely don't want to mis-spend it anymore than you do. Board members are not paid for their service so they generally do it out of a sense of duty to the community, and professional management companies are paid and usually have to act with some level of professionalism.

So that being said, you can and absolutely should politely ask "why". Why 4x? What does 4x mean? Is it month price, is it for the same square footage? Is it because they have a larger scope of services? Do they also spray and do pest control, do they cut the grass more often, do they do planting? Is it because they need different insurance so the HOA doesn't get sued if someone gets injured? Are they replacing mulch more frequently? Do they need to pay for disposal of trimmings?

You can bring it up at a meeting or as a private question. Perhaps it is time to bid out the work and see if there is a better vendor.

But as a board member, I often find people twist words or hear what they want, then rush to accuse the board of nefarious things, when often there are logical reasons and more to the story and rarely better alternatives (or if there are, they aren't 25% the cost, but a 5-10% reduction that sometimes comes from any competitive bid).

18
level 2

This, when I was on the board the HOA paid more for an equal sized area but the lawn service did a lot more also. They did seasonal flowerbed updates, power washed the signs and other ornamental brickwork, maintained some specific lighting, maintained the sprinkler system, and maintained a bunch of trees, in addition to the mowing/edging/shrub trimming.

9
level 2
Op · 1 mo. ago

The lady told they charge 1 dollar per minute, they get charged to take away debris etcc..etc... etc...

Firstly our HOA doesn't hire a lawn company to do yard care. The home owner is to take care of their yard. Th HOA hires a lawn care company when the homeowner gets a notification they need to correct something and the homeowner doesn’t correct it.

But she explicitly said if I were to hire this company to do my yard instead of the HOA that I would be paying 1/4th the price.

2
level 1

HOA Member: “We pay too much for this service. We should find another service provider.”

HOA Board “Sounds good. Can you use yelp to get bids from other service providers?”

HOA Member “No, I’m busy.”

Then we have the same service provider because no one cares enough to find a new one.

3
level 1

There are also a couple of real reasons why HOA contract costs exceed normal homeowner costs. Here are 2 (probably varies by location):

  1. HOA must hire contractors with appropriate insurance to avoid liability problems. The contractor must have:

    1. Added the HOA as an 'additional insured' on their general policy.

    2. fully funded workman's comp (if they have employees).

    3. multi-family dwelling endorsement.

    4. vehicle liability coverage for all vehicles that enter the property

  2. The HOA (in general, anyone who hires a contractor) cannot supervise or direct the contractors work, otherwise the contractor becomes an HOA employee. All job specifics must be agreed to as part of creating the contract and any disputes over work scope or workmanship MUST be handled by legal means (lawyers/courts, etc).

Just these 2 things chases off most small companies and many larger companies, and the ones that remain compensate by charging a lot more to comply.

5
level 1

Well ya, homeowners probably pays an illegal worker cash under the table. HOA has to hire a commercial contractor with proper insurance.

Also, commercial landscape companies often don't want to take on a small job working for a HOA, so HOA pays a higher premium than normal.

2
level 1

Request history of their annual bidding process

2
level 1

In my experience, as a condo board President, 4x retail is just about what a condo board will pay for just about everything unless someone on the board steps up and does the shopping for bids, educated themselves on the given subject, and then objects strenuously and repeatedly to overpaying. Why ? Vendors and managers have a symbiotic relationship. Vendors overcharge hoas in exchange for being dependable for the manager. The vendor gets $$$. The manager gets to put minimal effort in. The board usually doesn’t pay attention. Now the big question. How much of your own personal time are you willing to put in to break this cycle? Especially considering that the more you take on the less the manager had to work ? If you’re not careful you might just object yourself into a full time unpaid position. Trust me nobody will appreciate it.

1
level 1

You can snoop around, but if they find out it's not good for relations and certainly won't help you achieve your goals.

Instead I suggest, you get some quotes from some other reputable lawn service company and bring that to the board. Make sure to bring ample evidence of their qualification i.e. reviews, other locations that have used them, and maybe try with a short term contract so you aren't on the hook long term for the service.

That will get the juices going!

1
level 1

Is the hoa common are much larger than a homeowners yard?

Are there any other landscapers with better prices

1
level 1

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Created Jan 9, 2013