Cold weather has arrived, and that means increased chances of snow and ice for many locations. Just a slight drop in temperature can change light rain showers into a wintery mess. Having a plan in place before winter weather arrives can reduce stress and improve safety around the community. Calling a snow removal company last minute can mean long wait times and increased cost.

Here are a few ways that HOAs can plan ahead for winter weather:

  • Consider your area.

While there is no way to accurately predict exactly what winter will bring in terms of snow and ice, you can look back at years past for a general idea. If your town typically sees limited snowfall that melts pretty quickly, you likely don’t need a top-of-the-line snow removal plan. You may end up paying for more services than you actually need. At the same time, it’s often better to have a little more coverage if you’re on the line and vary between plowable snow and just a coating.

  • Compare options.

The HOA should do its research and decide what type of snow removal plan works best for the community. Companies vary in the types of contracts they offer. Decide whether you want a plan that covers the whole winter regardless of the amount of snow, or one that bills based on each weather event or time spent working in the neighborhood.

Then talk to the company about the details such as how much snow needs to fall before they start plowing, what areas will be plowed, whether they will shovel common areas, how they handle salting roads or walkways, and what the timeframe is for service. Know what to expect, and make sure this is communicated to homeowners as well so they’re not constantly calling when it snows to see when someone will be out.

  • Define homeowner responsibilities.

Typically, the HOA only covers snow removal for common areas. That means that homeowners are responsible for shoveling and salting their own driveways, sidewalks, and walkways. First and foremost, make sure that homeowners are aware of these responsibilities. Second, ensure that the HOA has clearly defined policies and expectations. How long do homeowners have to get this work done? Should sidewalks be cleared within 24 hours after the storm has stopped, or is 48 hours acceptable? Who is responsible for shoveling around fire hydrants? Is throwing snow back into the street a violation of the rules?

  • Work together.

Encourage homeowners to be mindful of one another and work together to help the community bounce back after a snowfall. For instance, offering to shovel for an elderly or disabled neighbor (or someone you know is out of town) can make the situation safer for everyone. Homeowners should also be proactive in reporting potential hazards that they see around the neighborhood to reduce the risk of accidents.

If the snow removal contract only includes plowing of common areas, make sure volunteers are in place to shovel snow and spread salt on the sidewalks and walkways. Connect with everyone before the snow hits to decide how things will be handled and who is doing what.

Dealing with winter weather can be tricky. Make sure your HOA has a snow removal policy in place that fits its needs and budget. Partnering with a property management company like Kuester can help ensure that things run more smoothly, policies are enforced, and contracts are executed. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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