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Q. Most homeowners associations sign contracts with vendors for their maintenance and repair activities. Some of those contracted activities involve endeavors that have some degree of risks involved (falling off a ladder, being struck with or by something, inhaling dangerous fumes, etc.). Considerable liabilities to the HOA could be involved, if some sort of accident occurred. Would an HOA reduce its exposure to liability claims, if there were a requirement in these contracts that the selected vendor must abide by all Federal, State and local laws and follow generally-accepted procedures for safety?

A. You have essentially answered your own question, but generally speaking you are correct about the need for associations to use caution in signing contracts with vendors that perform work in the community. The association is a property owner and is therefore at risk of a lawsuit if a vendor is injured on property while performing a dangerous job. The association can reduce that risk by hiring vendors that are licensed and have proper insurance for the job. It will generally be implied that any properly licensed and insured contractor is going to follow applicable laws and rules, but it certainly cannot hurt to include such language in the contract.

Before allowing a contractor to perform work on property, an association should think twice before entering into loose verbal agreements or signing a written proposal or estimate that has no legal protections. It most cases, it is worth the money to have the association’s lawyer spend an hour or two preparing the appropriate agreement that protects the association.