J.W. from Wayne County, Michigan writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I have weeds growing in my front flower bed. The manager and President say it is my responsibility to take care of this. When I sold my house, I sold all my tools for yard work. I am paying $325.00 a month for association fees. They want me to buy mulch, waste bags, and anything that pertains to the yard work. No co-owner owns any land. It is owned by the association. How is this my responsibility? What am I paying fees for?
Mister Condo replies:
J.W., I am sorry you were surprised by the request to perform landscaping on the association-owned flower bed in front of your unit. Your common fees pay for many things – insurance, property maintenance (snow removal, grass-cutting, etc.), common area utilities, management fees and much, much more. In most associations, upkeep on flower beds is also paid for out of common fees. As your association has demonstrated, that is not always the case. In fact, some associations allow great flexibility in the types of gardening they allow. Unless you can show where in your documents the association is bound to all of the upkeep, including flowers gardens, you might not have much of a case to be excused from weeding and the expense of the upkeep. However, this rule must be evenly applied throughout the association. If some owners are getting this service provided then all owners should have the service provided. If other owners are maintaining their own gardens, that may just be the way your association handles flower gardens. I’d be curious to know if you also have the option of removing all of the flowers and just having mulch in the area. No flowers, no weeding. Alternatively, you might want to suggest the Board take on the cost and responsibility of the weeding. That cost would get passed on to unit owners but it could be worked into the annual budget. Perhaps instead of $325 per month, fees could be increased to $350 per month with weeding included. Either way, I wish you all the best!