As the middle of the country endures another round of blizzard conditions, Jeffrey Van Grack takes on the issue of snow in community associations.
From Thanksgiving until the end of winter (and sometimes even later), snow may fall in area community associations and create issues of safety and parking that can escalate and become dangerous. The biggest concern and perhaps the biggest complaint that boards struggle with is snow removal. This is usually a no-win situation for the manager (think Snowmaggedon).
Despite what individual owners may think, boards of directors have no control of the snow, but they are responsible for snow removal (or lack thereof). In an effort to meet their legal obligation and to diminish the amount of callers, the board and management should hire a competent, properly insured snow removal company that is reliable. Hiring at the last minute the guy who shows up with the plow at the end of his truck is a mistake waiting to happen. Hiring someone who you are assured will show up as required pursuant to a written contract will go a long way towards goodwill of the owners for the entire year. Aside from the inconvenience and chaos it creates in the community, the removal of snow can be filled with liability issues, so having a competent properly insured contractor in place before the first snowfall is vital.
My favorite issue in a blizzard is when an owner (especially in townhouse communities) cleans a parking space and returns 20 minutes later to see a neighbor has taken over the “common area” parking space. Wars sometime start with this process. Your association may wish to send a reminder at the beginning of the season that all spaces are common spaces and that they may not be reserved.
Jeff Van Grack is a community association attorney whose practice has been devoted exclusively to representing community and homeowners associations, condominiums and co-operatives for more than 30 years. For more information visit www.lerchearly.com/team/jeffrey-van-grack.