Multi-family housing complexes need someone to cut the grass. More than that, they have to plant flowers, trim bushes, clear debris, mulch, rake, and take care of other lawn care needs. We know it can be hard to find a service that will balance the need to make tenants feel comfortable and enjoy their green space with the reality that you don’t have an unlimited budget.

By being clear about your expectations up front and regularly seeking quotes from other companies, you can make sure your service stays competitive and your residents stay happy.

What to Look For in Lawn Care Contracts

It’s usually not enough to just hire a mowing service with a handshake and a verbal agreement. You and the company may have vastly different ideas about what level of service you agreed to, the time frame for completing it, and who will do it.

Defined Service

Without fully defining your expectations in writing and signing the agreement, you’ll have nothing to show if the service doesn’t meet your needs. Here are just a few of the areas you should think about as you prepare a contract:

  • Mowing frequency: Do you need the grass to be cut once a week, or are you okay with going 10 days?
  • Trimming/edging: How crisp and well-groomed do you want the plants and sidewalks to look?
  • Mulching: What type, which areas, and how often?

On top of these staples, your property may have specific needs that you will have to communicate to the lawn care company, or else they won’t know to perform those services.

Time of Service

In cold climates, there will be several months of the year where lawn care is not necessary because the grass isn’t growing. This means your contract will need a start and end date based on the season. Make sure you think through your typical local seasons and identify your service dates accordingly.

Quality of Service

It may not be enough to say which services you want performed if your expectations aren’t clear. For example, when you say “mowing” service, does that include getting rid of clumps of grass clippings, and/or blowing them away? When bushes are trimmed, are the trimmings bagged up and discarded? Are weeds pulled from flower beds on a regular basis?

Excluded Services

Some lawn care companies will draw a line with certain services, such as responding immediately if a storm blows twigs and leaves all over your property. Make sure you know what cannot be done before signing on with a company.

Appropriate Fees

When selecting a lawn care provider for your affordable housing property, fees are one of the biggest factors in the decision. Get quotes for the same services from several different companies to see what a competitive cost is. Find out how the billing structure varies (whether a flat fee or by services performed or by a monthly retainer) and which one you prefer to use. And find out who will actually be doing the work — some companies recruit high schoolers rather than full-time professionals, yet charge full price for untrained labor.

Other Concerns

In addition to these main areas, there are a few management responsibilities you should consider before hiring a lawn care provider.

  • Make sure the company has the required insurance coverage and that it won’t lapse while they work on your property.
  • Consider using companies that provide year-round service if it would be helpful for your team to only have to contact and keep track of bills for a single company, rather than a separate snow/ice removal service.

Hiring a lawn care company is a big decision that requires thought, planning, and clear expectations. You want your residents to be proud of where they live and enjoy the beauty of a well-landscaped property, so make sure to hire someone who thinks the same as you.

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