If you live in an area where ice and snow are a problem during the upcoming winter season, your board members will want to be prepared for dealing with resident complaints and questions about removing these natural elements. To protect your homeowners association from liability and to inform residents properly, there are a few keys steps to take.
Send Out Communications
Distribute memos, newsletters, or emails that detail the specifications for snow and ice removal in your association each fall and winter. These communications should detail where in the association you will be plowing, how often, and the measurements that dictating when you’ll be plowing. For example, you could mention that snow will be plowed once it is higher than two inches. It’s also important to let owners know when and if you will be having a contractor shovel walkways or salt or sand areas of the community. Your HOA’s responsibility for clearing away snow may vary depending on the state, so check with your state’s laws and guidelines.
The announcement should also remind residents that you can’t promise or guarantee that the property will fully be protected against the hazards associated with ice and snow, so they should be cautious when driving and walking/running in the conditions. Do make it clear that you are still doing everything you can to keep the property safe and free from the elements.
This information should be sent out to residents and owners alike. Providing these details will give more responsibility to the residents and protect your community from legal matters.
Have a Pre-Game Plan
Before you even have the need to clear snow or ice, make sure you have a detailed plan in place. For example, know where you are going to put the piles of snow once they are shoveled. And consider the accumulation of ice on roofs, which can lead to damage that is costly—or even dangerous. Build up increases the chance of snow or ice falling off or causing obstructions. Also, think about important areas on property walkways that should be cleared for safety, such as fire hydrants.
There are also certain contractors that you can set up a contract for snow removal each year. Some contractors will offer an all-inclusive contract for any amount of snow or an a la carte option that charges you depending on the number of inches present. Check with your property management company for assistance with choosing the correct contractor for your snow or ice needs.
With the dropping temperatures and winter weather approaching, it’s important to have a plan in place and prepare for any risks involved with ice or snow fall in your association. Thinking ahead can save you a lot of worry and will leave everyone free continue enjoying the good things about this festive time of year.