Late in the fall or early winter, homeowners living in communities governed by an association (HOA) become concerned about timely snow removal. Snowfall brings with it a host of safety issues, including parking difficulties and dangerous walking conditions. It’s easy for the Board to overlook the topic of snow removal when light winters have been the norm for several years. But, there’s a lot of confusion among HOA homeowners about snow removal.
Some owners are surprised to find out that the city or county is responsible for snow removal on public streets. Generally, the HOA Board may decide to manage snow removal from common areas in the community such as sidewalks and parking lots. In communities consisting of single-family homes, the homeowner is usually responsible for snow removal from his/her driveway, private sidewalk and steps.
It’s little wonder that this shared responsibility for managing snow removal is confusing to owners. We deal with significant snow fall infrequently in East Tennessee. HOA Boards should review the association’s governing documents to make sure that responsibility for snow removal is determined and resolved. It’s a good idea to communicate areas of responsibility and contact information to all homeowners at the beginning of winter.
As you review your governing documents, verify the information for your snow removal vendor(s). Because this company may be used only occasionally, it’s important to make sure that snow removal is still part of the plan.
If you don’t have a vendor, ensure that you hire a reliable and insured snow removal company. Waiting to the last minute can mean higher prices and/or poor work. In addition, snow removal in your association can be delayed until the company has availability. Identifying vendor(s) and setting up a contract that covers cost and timing can save money and reduce chaos when your HOA needs snow removed.
Your HOA Board may want to explore adding flexibility to the association’s snow removal policy, such as allocating extra resources and budget when needed. Then, the Board can modify the policy to meet association needs when quick action is critical.
Snow is stressful for many individuals who are rushing to get to work or homeowners who are struggling to remove snow. Communication of snow removal solutions, such as contacts and areas of responsibilities helps reduce stress. When your Board has a solid action plan, your community can get back to normal quickly.