J.K. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our condo grounds are over grown with old bushes, weeds and dead trees because the Board has ignored them. We formed a committee to work on cleaning it up. The Board does not want to help as with many unit owners because they pay an association fee. What can we do?
Mister Condo replies:
J.K., I can sense your frustration with seeing your common grounds in such disarray. Keeping the property looking good is very important in maximizing values of the individual units within the association and you would think the majority of unit owners would demand that the grounds be kept in top order. However, from what you are telling me, that just isn’t the case. Even members of the Board are uninterested in lending a hand. That is a real problem.
As you mentioned, the Board is the governing body responsible for maintaining the common grounds, which include the landscaping. I am guessing your community is struggling in other areas as well and funds are tight. There is probably strong pressure on the Board to keep the common fees low, even though it is likely that fees need to be increased for everything from proper contribution to the Reserve Fund to professional landscape management, which is the proper way to handle this situation. Your Beautification Committee should be charged with guiding the work of the landscape contractor (with the Board’s approval, of course). Committee members might also volunteer to help out with some light duties like weeding, watering, or plant care but the overall job of making the property look good should be left to the professionals. There are plenty of landscaping contractors to work with and they are, generally, excellent at what they do.
The problem here would seem to be with your Board’s unwillingness to collect the necessary common fees to fulfill their duty of keeping the common elements in top shape. If the majority of unit owners agree with them, J.K., there may be little you can do. However, if you or like-minded folks are willing to serve on the Board, I would suggest you get elected and take charge of the situation so you can get your curb appeal back where it belongs. All the best!