Would welcome advice about taking on communal grounds maintenance

Hi all,
I am writing to ask for some advice from anyone with any relevant experience or for that matter from anyone who has any thoughts.
I moved in to my new build house three years ago. There are some communal areas which are maintained by a ground maintenance company. All of the houses pay 100 each per month for this. There are 41 houses between two small sites. The communal grounds consists of one large area of grass planted with some trees and then 2/3 areas planted with shrubs and very small areas of grass.
The ground maintenance company do the absolute minimum and less. I have reluctantly paid the 100 but have done so with resentment. They arrive and cut the grass once a fortnight at best. They will walk past trees that are lying at angles because the tie backs have been snapped and they take no pride in the area....
I attended the yearly meeting with the company last year and made my feelings known but there has been no improvement. The grass was cut yesterday but the guys (3 of them) took 4 hrs to cut it as they had to cut it three times as it was so long (they had left it3-4 weeks). I know a number of residents have not paid due to the lack of maintenance.
Ok, so I keep a large garden at home, I like to think I keep it very neat, cut the lawn at least once a week and do all the edging and maintain the beds and shrubs. My gardening knowledge is relatively limited, I mainly experiment at home and plant what I like and maintain it accordingly. I am not afraid of hard work and I take pride in my garden and enjoy it looking well.
Re the communal area I feel angry that it looks so bad. I believe it could be lovely if it was only maintained regularly. The work needed involves a weekly cut and the shrubs trimmed and weeding of the beds.... I estimate that 3-4 hrs per week would have it lovely. This said because it has not been maintained it will take more work initially to get it nice. For instance the grass quality is very poor lots of weeds and moss so it would need to be treated and fed so more work to get it in order but I believe when this is done it could then be well maintained. Clearly my motivations are because I live here and want it to look well and for my family and neighbours to enjoy.
Anyway to the point, I contacted the owner of the maintenance company, I made my points and asked him if he would consider paying a resident to maintain the area. He nearly snapped my hand off and was very positive to the idea. This concerned me a little. However on the face of it I can see that the site must be a headache for him as others are not paying and he must have a number of complaints to deal with. He said he would send me the schedule they work to ie how much alloted time to each task and would welcome a quote from me.....
So here is where I need advice. I would like to explore this for the above reasons. I realise that I will not be able to retire on the money I will bring in however I don't want to be taken advantage of. I planned on studying his schedule closely and seeing if I felt this was realistic. I considered that I would need to factor for the use of my equipment and maintenance of same. I will also want to talk to him about a budget or factor for feed/weedkiller/plants etc etc... I am also wondering if insurance becomes an issue, would I be covered by their insurance (at the meeting last year when we asked them how they spent the 4k fees they collected he made a big play of the public liability insurance for the area).
I also recognise that if I take this on I am likely to have additional responsibilities ie residents approaching me to complain or raise issues. I am prepaired for this. I also believe that because I will maintain the area well this should not be a huge issue.
So does anyone have any views, experiences observations they could share.
--
dprovan


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dprovan wrote:

In my experience this is a no-win issue for you.
1. You will never make everyone happy, no matter how hard you work.
2. You and your neighbors will come to hate one another. Their dogs and children will run loose and ruin your efforts and it will always be "someone else's fault, not MY kid/dog!"
3. They will expect much more from you than a faceless maintenance company because you are there, onsite, to complain to.
Is this the only maintenance company in the area? Our neighborhood changes companies every 5 years or so if the service gets lax or the price rises out of expectation. It is in the contract that they come to mow every 7 days, fertilize on a specific schedule, trim the shrubbery twice a season as needed, spray the trees for pests, etc.
If you are set on this, you need to think it through and be very specific about the services you are prepared/willing to provide, and it needs to be in writing in a formal contract.
gloria p
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So if you could get all the houses paying, that would be 4100/month. Not bad, for mowing the lawn. Are there other maintenance companies, you could approach for an estimate to do the work? If you and some of your neighbors did the work, perhaps all the neighbors would sign a waiver for the insurance, and promise not to sue, for any errors.
So as I see it, You could do the work yourself, perhaps with a waiver on the insurance (with or without additional assistance from other neighbors). You could ask that the price for the gardening be renegotiated by the company that is currently doing the work. Or you could open it up to bids from other grounds maintenance companies.
If you do it yourself, there will undoubtedly be a learning curve as you learn about the different plants that you are tending and the soils in which they are planted. This can be learned from books, nurserymen, and biologists at local institutions of higher learning.
--
- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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I am a professional field inspector for a homeowner's reserve study specialist in the State of Nevada USA. We go to these home owner associations, and take inventory of all these common areas, then digest the information mathematically, and give the HOA a 30 year projection on how much money to collect to cover the costs for all common items.
It sounds like you either do not have a board, or do not have a board who is doing their job. Who issues the checks to the landscaper? Is it a person or a board? That is the person who should twist arms or fire them and hire a competent service. I do not know how your laws are structured.
4100 pounds a month is a LOT of money for landscaping, but that depends on your landscaping. It sounds like a lot to me.
You should be discussing this with the board, or the person in charge, as you don't sound like you're getting your money's worth.
In the US, because of Florida precedent, some states have adopted the practice of mandatory reserve studies to stop embezzlement, and to stop the practice of awarding sweetheart contracts by making everything public.
You might want to contact someone in your area who governs such things if there is one. If not, I'd get to the bottom of things. You can not be the only one who's not happy.
Steve
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Damn, and I was already packed ;O)
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Slight difference there. But the principle is the same. If someone is not doing a good job, there should be concern on someone's part.
Steve
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