House or condominium, know your rules for landscaping
This is the time of year when everyone’s thoughts turn to landscaping and outdoor maintenance.
Whether it’s buying that Bell’s hanging basket for your deck or installing a brand new yard, each homeowner and condo association is unique in their rules and requirements when it comes to landscaping.
Prospective homebuyers should carefully review the public offering statement or resale certificate prior to their purchase so they are aware of what the homeowners association, or HOA, expects of them regarding the installation and maintenance of landscaping.
Well-maintained landscaping adds cohesiveness in the community and adds to a planned, attractive and well laid out streetscape. It also adds real value when it comes to the resale of a home.
In some new home communities it is the developer’s responsibility to install four to six inches of top soil, hydro-seeding and a specific number and type of trees and shrubs as part of their platting approval.
Other new home communities leave the landscaping to the initial homeowner and must be completed within a specific time period, usually one year after occupancy. Some subdivisions may require an actual dollar amount be spent on landscaping a new home while others may actually dictate the height, trunk caliber and type of tree for the front yard.
One new subdivision in southeast Anchorage is requiring foundation landscaping at the front of each home, as recommended by Anchorage’s new Title 21.
In pre-owned homes, where the initial landscaping has already been installed, the issue becomes one of maintenance. HOAs require that the landscape design for the community be maintained on each lot, the enforcement of which is the responsibility of the landscape committee.
Enforcement can include the timely removal and replacement of dead trees and shrubs. If the committee is not knowledgeable on landscaping, disputes can arise over dead trees and lawn maintenance.
Some associations have the ability to fine homeowners if their landscaping is not in conformation with the covenants, codes and restrictions. Other associations may limit how many times an owner may fertilize in a growing season due to the run off into ecological sensitive areas.
In condominium developments, the association takes care of the landscaping for all common areas, including signage, unless an area is designated as a limited common area adjacent to a particular unit when it becomes the responsibility of the individual condo owner.
Associations have no authority over limited common areas. The association board generally hires a landscape contractor and is paid for out of the monthly dues. The contractor is responsible for spring and fall cleanup, aeration, fertilization, watering, raking, weed control in beds and lawns, mowing and trimming.
For many owners, it is a small price to pay for an aesthetically attractive community.
Connie Yoshimura is the broker/owner of Dwell Realty. Contact her at 907-646-3670 or [email protected].