Landscaping Contracts: 4 Mistakes That Are Easy To Make

The task of undertaking a landscaping project may seem straightforward, but there are a number of pitfalls you likely haven't considered. These are some of the biggest mistakes people make when creating a contract for this type of job that you'll want to avoid. The information provided here is for general information only and should not be used as legal advice.

4 Big Mistakes People Make With Landscaping Contracts

  1. Not knowing whose land it is. The exact definition of property lines and whose responsibility it is to pay for certain maintenance is not always cut and dry. Make sure you have a proper landscaping contract to limit your liability.
  2. Not understanding local regulations. If there is an HOA involved, work might be halted if it violates the bylaws, and you'll want it set in writing exactly what is to be done if that happens.
  3. Getting in the middle of established conflicts. Neighbors fight, and the last thing you want to do is take part in anything illegal, so don't proceed until you get all the facts.
  4. Not outlining the scope of the work. There's always a chance that the customer will be unhappy with the finished product, which is why you need a contract to fall back on. Talk to an attorney if the other party is in violation of the agreement.

If My Neighbor's Tree Falls On My Property, Who Is Responsible?

Like many aspects of the law, this one is open to interpretation. The general rule regarding fallen trees is that you're responsible because it fell on your property. However, your neighbor is liable if you can prove that the tree posed a danger and that they were negligent. How you go about doing that is an entirely different matter, but it is possible to show that the neighbor should have known the tree was dangerous and chose to do nothing. If the tree has already fallen, it will be very difficult to prove this, but if you anticipate that it may be an issue, consult an attorney right away.

Having an HOA can be a big headache, especially when you want to make changes to your property. What makes it even more difficult to figure out is that it depends on where you live. Generally, an HOA can mandate regulations for common areas of the neighborhood, but can't stop you from doing something on your own property unless it is against the law or poses a danger to the safety of others. But that doesn't mean your HOA won't try to overstep its boundaries, and you may have a lengthy battle ahead of you. It's a good idea to look up local HOA regulations to understand what your HOA can and can't do.

Statute of Limitations For Breach Of Contract Cases By State

State Written Contract Oral Contract
Alabama 6 6
Alaska 3 3
Arizona 6 3
Arkansas 5 3
California 4 2
Colorado 6 6
Connecticut 6 3
Delaware 3 3
District of Columbia 3 3
Florida 5 4
Georgia 6 4
Hawaii 6 6
Idaho 5 4
Illinois 10 5
Indiana 10 6
Iowa 10 5
Kansas 5 3
Kentucky 15 5
Louisiana 10 10
Maine 6 6
Maryland 3 3
Massachusetts 6 6
Michigan 6 6
Minnesota 6 6
Mississippi 6 6
Missouri 5 5
Montana 8 5
Nebraska 5 4
Nevada 6 4
New Hampshire 3 3
New Jersey 6 6
New Mexico 6 4
New York 6 6
North Carolina 3 3
North Dakota 6 6
Ohio 15 6
Oklahoma 5 3
Oregon 6 6
Pennsylvania 4 4
Rhode Island 10 10
South Carolina 3 3
South Dakota 6 6
Tennessee 6 6
Texas 4 4
Utah 6 4
Vermont 6 6
Virginia 5 3
Washington 6 3
West Virginia 10 5
Wisconsin 6 6
Wyoming 10 8

What If I Suspect Fraudulent Activity?

Breach of contract cases often go hand-in-hand with fraud. The difference between the two claims is subtle, but important. While breach of contract covers any incomplete or unfulfilled contracted services, a fraud claim assumes that the contractor never intended to honor the agreement. Fraud claims may be more difficult to prove in court, which is why you need to understand the type of breach of contract case you wish to bring before filing suit.

Different Types Of Breach Of Contract

  • Partial or Minor Breach: When an agreement is partially met, but either unfinished, or not finished according to the agreed-upon terms.
  • Material Breach: When the terms of the contract are met, but in a way that drastically differs from the client's expectations.
  • Anticipatory Breach: When a pre-existing condition or conflicting contract lets the client know early on that the contract won't or can't be honored.
  • Breach of Contract and Fraud: When the contractor had no intention of honoring the contract.

In Depth

Anyone with a piece of land is likely going to need to retain help for maintenance and the geological issues that go with building. But disagreements with those who are hired can be costly and drag out for years. Whether you're a property owner or a professional landscaper, these are the four mistakes you need to avoid when making out a contract.

Mistake #1: not knowing whose land it is. One of the most common things you may need a landscaping company for is a dying tree, or one that has fallen down in a storm. And one of the most common topics discussed on the Internet is who is responsible, the person whose property the tree was on, or the person whose land it fell on? These arguments can get more heated than you might expect.

A Florida man was arguing with his neighbors over where his property line was because he didn't like how short the neighbor was cutting his grass, and wanted his lawn to be longer. This simple conflict escalated until he was arrested with a loaded revolver that he had pointed at several people. Never underestimate how seriously a man takes his lawn.

Never underestimate how seriously a man takes his lawn.

If you, as a landscaper, remove a tree, only to find out that the person who hired you didn't have the right to remove it, who is at fault? That's where you need a proper landscaping contract that outlines the specifics of the job. You can show that you were told that the person who hired you owned the property you were working on, protecting yourself from liability.

A solid contract can not only protect the landscaper, but the customer as well. To learn more, refer to our full guide to landscaping contracts. You can find it right beneath this video.

Mistake #2: not understanding local regulations. Though you'd like to do whatever you want with your yard, many people have to deal with homeowner's associations. Some of these organizations are relatively benign, while others have been known to create ridiculous rules that hamper residents every step of the way, and they aren't always people you want to cross.

Though you'd like to do whatever you want with your yard, many people have to deal with homeowner's associations.

When a Kansas City man was denied the right to carry out his landscaping project by his homeowner's association, he sued. The lawsuit dragged on for years. Ultimately a judge decided that he was unfairly denied the right to pursue his project, but that he owed a fine for failing to fill out the application properly. Each side spent more than $300,000 in legal fees, all over a bit of yard work.

You don't want to have to pay for landscaping that was never done, so make sure your contract stipulates who is responsible if an application is denied. Wasted time and wasted money will make both parties angry. The laws regarding what an H.O.A. can do vary by state, so read up before you commit.

Mistake #3: getting in the middle of established conflicts. There's no law that says neighbors have to like each other, and you might be walking into a situation that has years of bad blood. Take Senator Rand Paul, whose neighbor of 17 years was anything but a friend, as the two had butted heads numerous times. Things boiled over during an argument over the ways Paul, who was big on mulching and other yard projects, was using his property.

Take Senator Rand Paul, whose neighbor of 17 years was anything but a friend, as the two had butted heads numerous times.

The neighbor chased after Paul while he was getting off a riding lawnmower. Paul had earphones on, so he couldn't hear the approach. He was tackled, and ended up in the hospital with broken ribs, while the neighbor was arrested.

We aren't lawyers, and this isn't legal advice, but no mulch job is worth getting beat up by an anesthesiologist. Instead, check out our full guide on this page by scrolling beneath this video.

Mistake #4: not outlining the scope of the work. If this is a big job, then the customer can't be there the whole time to supervise. The property owner doesn't want to get overcharged for sub-par work, and the contractor doesn't want to be stiffed when they had to put in extra hours to get the job done.

The property owner doesn't want to get overcharged for sub-par work, and the contractor doesn't want to be stiffed when they had to put in extra hours to get the job done.

The solution for both parties is a contract that makes clear the specific job to be done, how much it will cost, and the remedy for any disagreements. If the other party is in violation of the contract, you should talk to an attorney to explore your legal options. For more information, consult our full guide to landscaping contracts. You can find it right beneath this video.

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