L.B. from New Haven writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We pay a high HOA fee at my complex which includes routine work such as landscaping. Our landscapers do as little as possible and the property is always a mess. Overgrown bushes, grass, weeds, etc. Numerous complaints have been made to the property manager and she does nothing to follow thru. My question is, if I trim my own bushes, weed and basically clean up, do I have the right to deduct that from my monthly HOA?
Mister Condo replies:
L.B., I am sorry that your landscaping company isn’t performing to your expectations and that your complaints appear to have no effect. However, you absolutely do not have the right to deduct any amount from your monthly HOA fees. HOA fees are legally enforceable against you as the unit owner and you don’t want to get into arrears with your association or they will hit you with late fees, collection fees, and worse. And they will prevail so please don’t try this tactic. Instead, look to your Board for assistance in cleaning up this matter. Both the landscaping company and the Property Manager work for the Association, controlled by the Board. The Board can apply pressure to both the Property Manager and the landscaping company to do a better job and even threaten to remove one or both if they don’t. These folks have contracts with the association that can be terminated for cause or simply not renewed when the time comes. Landscaping is a very competitive industry and your association has many potential vendors to choose from. There is simply no reason to settle for second-rate service. Also, ask to review the landscaping company’s contract. It is possible that the Board isn’t asking for all of the services you seek and/or feel you deserve. If the contract simply says they will cut grass, you can’t be too upset that they don’t also trim hedges and fertilize or prevent weeds. The bottom line is that there are far better ways to solve this problem than withholding your common fees, which will only create new problems for you. Good luck!