L.S. from New Haven County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our condominium does not do a good job of clearing snow in winter. The contract is for 3 inches and it doesn’t include a clause for accumulated snow storms… so we could get 4 2-inch snow storms and the plow does not come until we get a 3-inch snow storm…so the parking lot is usually a mess. I personally shovel and salt in front of my unit to keep it clear for my visitors. I have some handicap-able friends and I don’t want them slip-sliding across the parking lot to my unit. Does this constitute a reasonable violation of the rules? I have one vehicle with two parking spaces in front of my unit. There is usually an abundance of visitors parking. And we are required for snow removal to park our cars in the visitors parking area.
Mister Condo replies:
L.S., what a timely question! Snow removal varies by community as each community generally hires its own snow removal contractor. Some associations have their snow removed as a service of their management company if the management company offers the service. Very few associations rely on residents to do their own shoveling and snow removal and for good reason. One of the top insurance claims filed against community associations is “slip and fall” which is what happens when an adequate snow removal system is not in place at a condo. From what you have told me there are no rules being violated. It is a simple matter of the Board trying to save money (unit owners like it when they do that!) versus purchasing a more aggressive (and expensive!) snow removal contract. If I were you, I would write to the Board to ask them to reconsider their snow removal contract. Of course, the question is how much is enough? Should the snow be removed at 1 inch, 2 inches? Can someone call the snow removal contractor in between storms so that when multiple 2-inch storms happen the lot gets plowed. These are all simple business decisions that need to be made. Don’t be surprised if the Board says it is happy with the contract the way it is now.
Snow removal is expensive and unpredictable making it a volatile budget item for many communities. I know of some that simply ran out of money a few years back when we had so much of the white stuff dumped on us. My guess is that you can use your powers of persuasion to at least get the Board to consider your request. At the very least, you may want to ask the Board to review the Association’s insurance policy to make sure that their current snow removal program is in compliance with the coverage. If a million dollar “slip and fall” claim were filed against the association and it was determined that the association was negligent in their snow removal the financial consequences could far outweigh the expense of a more aggressive snow removal program. Good luck!