Show Notes

Today, you get to learn about how I got BUSTED!  Getting a property maintenance violation can be frustrating when you are trying to convert to low maintenance landscaping.  Here’s what to do.

  • Our story
  • Violations can be emotional and stressful
    • Frustrating
    • Infuriating
    • Embarrassing
    • Difficult
    • Want to retaliate
  • How to deal with one
    • Stay calm
    • Always context behind event – try not to use as an excuse
    • Investigate source of violation
      • Sometimes a deeper issue
      • Call issuing authority
      • Request details
      • Understand source of violation
        • Complaint
        • compliance authority
      • Request contact if complaint
    • Be cordial, respectful, professional
      • The more positive and respectful
        • Less friction with authority, complainant in future
        • Better chance of resolution
      • Share with authority that you are regretful of the inconvenience
        • Not direct apology but regret for the extra time and effort
      • Confirm that you will resolve the issue ASAP
  • What to do long term to avoid violations
    • Design to reduce maintenance
      • Episode 2, 3 – low maintenance landscaping basics
      • Episode 21 – easy landscaping for HOAs and Codes
    • Consulting

Links for today’s episode:

this is the easy living yards podcast

I’m your carefree host Ben Hale let’s

jump in and learn how to have a healthy

beautiful yard with less work so you can

enjoy more time doing what you love


what’s up and welcome to episode 22 of

the easy living yards podcast thanks for

tuning in today guys I’ve got a great

episode here today as well I’ll be

honest it’s not my favorite topic but

with that you know it’s also a great

episode because it’s very very important

actually so while it may not be the

funnest topic it’s an important topic

and we all need to make sure we’re aware

of what to do in difficult situations

and that’s what we’re talking about

today is dealing with violations now

hopefully this is something you’ll never

have to deal with but the reality is

violations are more and more common with

more and more people today for for

smaller and smaller minutiae and the the

reality is it’s a difficult situation we

want to deal with it the best way we can

to get the best outcome possible so

that’s what we’re talking about today is

is how do we deal with this the best way

we can and get the best outcome okay and

that’s not just for you – that’s that’s

for you and your neighborhood how do we

get the best outcome okay alright I

wanted to get that out there – okay so

dealing with violations this can really

be you know an emotional topic if it’s

something you’re dealing with especially

now so if you come by if you just found

this episode you have no idea who I am

right well first of all I’m a super cool

guy I love landscapes I love staring at

plants and I’m super stoked to share my

knowledge with you okay so that’s all

true stuff but what we’re talking about

here on the aesthetic ecosystems podcast

is is saving time in your landscape on

the things that you don’t need to be

spending time on so you can have more

time to do what’s important in your life

okay and so violations can be a

difficult piece to handle

and it can really negatively affect our

our lifestyle because it can nave

negatively affect our neighbors

relationships and so the people that we

see day in and day out living next to us

we have to live next to them so if if

you’re not having a good harmonious

relationship in your neighborhood it can

really negatively affect your life and

so we’re gonna try and keep things as

positive as possible where we live and

sometimes you know that’s very difficult

and violations are one piece of that for

sure it’s a very tough piece of that so

we want to figure out how to deal with

these in the best way possible to get

the most positive outcome for ourselves

and for our neighbors so we can reduce

this happening in the future as well

okay now this actually touches near and

dear to me because I’ve had a

maintenance violation from my next-door

neighbor and and let me tell you this

can be very difficult very stressful so

I want to share with you my story on

dealing with a violation the the

emotions that I experienced and and how

you can hopefully work through this if

you ever have to deal with this and get

the best outcome possible and maybe not

do some of the things I felt like I

wanted to do and some of the things I

did actually do it while dealing with

this situation so we want to get the

best outcome possible and that’s not to

say this is an easy process but we want

to get the best long-term outcome and so

for my story okay I about let’s see this

was about seven months ago I received a

maintenance violation on our property

for not maintaining my yard up to the

the township codes standard so the

township code has some zoning

regulations written in a property a

property maintenance code and and it’s

actually written very similarly to what

you would have in a homeowner’s

association so we actually moved into

this Township thinking that we

specifically didn’t want to live in an


because we didn’t want to have to worry

about the day-to-day upkeep of our

appearance of our property especially

while we’re dealing with proper a piece

of property that required a lot of work

so we were looking at a lot of houses

that that needed a lot of repair so we

could actually afford a slightly bigger

house than we could otherwise afford

with the price range we were looking in

with our current lifestyle planning on

having starting a family so when we when

we purchased our house we purchased this

house it was in a horrible horrible

shape and the landscape was just as bad

so so the interior of the house to see

you guys know it was something you could

hardly walk into because just the stench

was so strong there there were a lot of

cats that lived in the house they just

tore the place apart that the people

didn’t take care of it it was it was

just a difficult situation to help the

family had a lot of problems and and

unfortunately the house suffered and the

landscape suffered so the interior of

the house was horribly difficult to live

in and it needed triage it needed

immediate help and the landscape also

needed help as well but it had to take a

backseat to our to our immediate living

space and so free just for your

awareness the landscape situation even

when we were looking at this place the

grass was sometimes 12 to 14 inches high

probably the the front awning of the

house had a pillar that was just missing

it just had just fallen down and so the

awning was kind of leaning it was in

horrible shape the the garden beds were

just overgrown they had these giant you

bushes that you could hardly walk down

the pathway with the backyard was even

worse there was an above-ground pool

that had been installed in some previous

years and the the slope of the ground

was altered during this installation

where where the water would basically

during a rain event would flow toward

the house and and they were when I we

bought the house there was no longer an

above-ground pool there so all that was

left was this giant

circular pit that was recessed in the

ground from about six inches on one side

to about almost two feet on the other

side and so what this happened to become

was a burn pit for the previous owners

and so you can imagine our property was

in a pretty rough state and what we did

is we kind of decided okay we got to fix

the interior of the house there’s a lot

that needs to be done the house needs to

be completely gutted before we can even

move in and then there’s a ton of work

to get it to where it’s livable and

comfortable and so we decided to focus

on the interior of the house we are

still doing that and because life

happens right and we had kids and we now

have three children in that in-between

time and with those three children of

course our time has become more and more

valuable at the same time we made a

conscious effort to get our landscape to

where it was livable it was not


to maintain it on a frequent enough

basis to not be a nuisance and to kind

of leave it go until later and so when

you guys are here in this now is that

later time period our house is still not

finished to the way we want on the

inside but it’s at least comfortable

there’s a lot of little things you know

that work me because in my perfectionist

attitude but but the reality is it’s a

pretty nice space now we’re very

thankful for the house we have it and we

do have a pillar on our front porch now

so don’t you worry and and now it’s time

to where we can begin to focus on the

exterior of the house now unfortunately

this kind of I’m kind of bringing you

through the history but now let’s

fast-forward to about this was let’s see

about October November last year so we

had our third son you know we have three

boys three young beautiful boys awesome

great fun to play with never never a bad

day of course right a little bit of

sarcasm there but uh but our third son

was born in September this past year and

and so of course it was a very busy

month and for those of you who might

live in other regions the

the summer so come late August through

the early October is kind of the the

last burst of growth for cool season

grasses and so our lawn being a hard

fescue lawn it really puts on this big

burst of growth towards the end of the

season that coincided with our third

child being born so as you can imagine

we were very busy we had a lot of tough

days just adapting to the new lifestyle

especially with our two older boys

really kind of learning how to adapt to

the new family situation and of course

the last thing we’re thinking about is

is mowing the grass right and so

coincident with this we we cut our grass

at a high level and and so when it

starts to grow even just a little bit

sometimes it can start to look a little

out of shape now when you’re cutting

your grass at this height during these

rapid growth stages you still need to

cut your grass relatively often it’s

during the lower growth stages that you

can really cut down on the frequency of


so so it we have about a month old child

two other toddlers in the house and our

neighbor decides instead of even talking

to me

decides to submit a property maintenance

violation for our house and so you can

imagine the frustration of my wife

calling me while I’m at work and and

saying hey we got this Notice of

Violation and we don’t even know why it

doesn’t have any clarity on what is the

violation it’s just a letter that was

placed on our house

and it said we had two weeks to comply

or we’re fined and that the township is

going to come in and take care of the

issue for us and we have to pay for it

so as you can imagine this was

incredibly frustrating at an incredibly

difficult time for our family as we’re

adapting to our new lifestyle with very

little sleep and so you can imagine

potentially the emotions I felt the

frustration I had and also the stress at

wondering who had the nerve to to issue

a violation against us

without even talking to us and so there

was a lot of frustration and it took us

a while to really just calm down and and

to decide how to best move forward and

so I can fast forward a few months and

to let you know that I had a very

positive interaction with the township

in talking with them understanding what

the specific violation was making sure I

rectified it and also understanding who

the individual was that had issued the

violation now in that time to the this

is potentially a much better outcome

than you may get but my my neighbor

actually came forward and and had a

really open discussion with me and

apologized for the lack of understanding

and and really worked to build a

positive relationship from what was a

very negative situation so I actually

had a very good outcome but

unfortunately we went through a very

tough part there where it was very

frustrating very stressful very

difficult nearly to the point where I

wanted to move our family out of the

house to somewhere else that’s that’s

how frustrated I was and so that’s not

what we want here again because we’re

talking about improving our lives and

while we talk mostly about improving the

amount of time we have available in our

life this is also just about living our

life to its fullest and it’s very

difficult when your neighbors are doing

something that makes you feel inadequate

or just very stressed out uncomfortable

embarrassed to live where you’re living

and so these are all and you know

important things to work on and that’s

what I want us to work through here so

that is in a nutshell my story about our

violation and how we lived through it

and now I want to share what I’ve

learned with you to really help you if

you ever have to deal with this

situation okay so let’s get into the

nuts and bolts of what you can do to

best deal with a violation now first

things first what I want to do is to

acknowledge the feelings and emotions

you may accept

uriens when you’re issued a violation so

this can be a very emotional and very

stressful time because essentially what

this is is somebody else telling you

that your space and your lifestyle is

not good enough right that’s that’s kind

of what registers in your mind that

might not be the other person’s intent

but a lot of times that’s where your

mind goes to that’s definitely where my

mind went to and so it’s it’s very

stressful so some of the other emotions

are frustration anger or it’s just

infuriating embarrassing difficult it’s

something you you may want to want to

retaliate about it right now it’s

important to acknowledge these emotions

understand where they’re coming from and

to also kind of try and when you’re

dealing with this stuff to really try

and provide a different outlet for those

emotions okay it’s hard to just suppress

them that’s not always the best thing

but to just to make sure we’re not using

this situation as our outlet for the

emotions that may have been stirred

through the situation okay so make sure

you find a healthy outlet for it before

you deal with this specific situation

okay so let’s let’s make sure we don’t

let emotion cloud our judgment or our

actions when working through dealing

with this violation okay so now how to

deal with a violation first things first

you want to try and stay calm now again

this might require that you you process

through your emotion you get out your

emotion and whatever way necessary and

healthy before you actually deal with

this violation head-on okay so do that

in the best and healthiest way you can

but during these these steps below that

I’m going to talk about make sure you

stay calm okay

so the other piece is there’s always

context behind the event try not to use

this as an excuse for the violation so

the context I gave you for ours was our

living situation we moved in our

landscape has always been in better

condition than when we purchased the

property and of course those people

hadn’t had a violation right but also

we were in a difficult stage of life

where unfortunately for us and for our

neighborhood the the lawn was one of our

least priorities we were very more

concerned about dealing with making sure

the health of our family was was good

making sure everybody was happy and

taken care of and those were that was

our priority that was the singular

priority for us right and so wow that’s

a context it’s not an excuse for for the

the condition so for me my lawn was

taller than what was supposed to be what

it was supposed to be according to the

regulations and so whether or not I had

context for it the fact of the matter

was that I was in violation of that code

okay so let’s make sure we don’t use the

context as an excuse but more for

awareness and understanding and and

hopefully we can just work through the

situation so the next piece is to

understand and investigate the source of

the violation so sometimes this is a

much deeper issue than the violation

itself and so it’s important to try and

understand why was the violation issued

and is that the real reason for the

violation or is it somebody that’s upset

with you so you know it could be a

deeper neighbor issue or somebody that

is upset with you for other reasons and

it’s important to make sure we can

rectify whatever situation is at hand

so even if we rectify the violation it

may not take care of the long-term issue

so make sure we really understand what

is the the core of the matter here is it

just the violation or is it something

deeper okay so the first step to do is

to call the issuing authority so this

may be your your local Township

zoning property maintenance officer as

it was in my case or it may be your HOA

board member

whatever the case make sure you talk to

them and understand the details of the

violation so make sure you request any

details that may be written down

it may be actual official written

document or it may be something that was

verbally communicated but either way get

as many details as you can about the

violation what is the actual violation

and then understand the source of the

violation was it a complaint was it some

sort of authority that that maintains

compliance so somebody that goes around

and checks properties what was the

actual source of the violation because

this is this can really affect whether

or not there’s a deeper issue at hand so

if if it is a complaint make sure you

also request the contacts identity this

may or may not be divulged it may or may

not be public record but it’s important

to at least ask and this isn’t for

purposes of retaliation but for purposes

of understanding and so for my township

it becomes public record when you issue

a violation and so it was public record

which means I have a right to understand

who that individual was and usually and

definitely was in my case the township

is reluctant to share that unless

directly requested so of course they

don’t want to cause further issues so

it’s important to if you would like to

understand the deeper issue you can

request the contact of the complaint

okay the next piece is during this whole

conversation make sure you are cordial

make sure you are respectful and make

sure you are professional again we’re

dealing with somebody who is an

authority here right there

their job is to enforce codes and so if

you are in violation of a code you are a

violator and so it’s important to always

maintain a position of respect cordilla

cordiality cord cord realness we’re

gonna go with respect and

professionalism okay so make sure you’re

always you know being as professional as

possible it’s not the it most likely

isn’t the person you’re talking to is

not the the person who is acting out

potentially and or trying to negatively

impact your lifestyle okay so make sure

we don’t take out our frustration on the

person we’re talking to instead they are

a source of information for us a source

of understanding for us so we can move

forward and rectify the situation okay

now what I want to say here too is the

more positive and respectful you

maintain this relationship the less

friction you have with Authority the

also the more positive and you’re

respectful you are with the the

complaintant if you end up talking with

this person

the less friction you have in the future

as well as well as the best chance for

resolution so really by being positive

and cordial and respectful you have the

end professional you have the best

chance of rectifying this situation as

well as preventing further issues in the

future because if you’re rude you’re

aggressive you’re emotional most likely

you’re going to be seen as the violator

who is not being compliant and you’re

going to have a big target place on your

property for future violations okay so

it’s actually in your best interest to

be as professional as possible in this

situation also while this is not an

apology share with the authority that

you are regretful of the inconvenience

that is caused by the situation okay so

when you have a violation placed against

you there’s a lot of paperwork that

needs to go through most likely there is

actual work that needs to be done to

issue the violation and to follow up on

it to make sure you’re being compliant

so it’s just helpful to make sure you

account for the and acknowledge I guess

that’s a better word to acknowledge that

there is work involved with this

situation and you regretful of that now

regret is not necessarily an apology so

you don’t need to certainly need to

apologize unless you feel the need to

for you know the extra time and effort

that’s been caused by this situation


next make sure with this discussion with

the issuing authority that you confirm

that you will resolve this

shoot as soon as you possibly can all

right for me I actually this made me

very upset but for me to comply with our

violation as quickly as possible before

we received any sort of fine I ended up

on Halloween evening having to drive

home from work as quickly as possible to

cut our lawn cut our grass before we had

rain the next several days and before a

compliance officer was at our property

checking out things so unfortunately it

may be very inconvenient and make make

you unhappy it may make you stressed may

make you miss out on family stuff like I

did but it’s important to confirm that

you were resolved the issue as soon as

possible and then follow up by resolving

the issue okay so that’s really what I

have for how to deal with an existing

violation now let’s just spend a really

short bit on what you can do long-term

to avoid future violations so the

biggest piece here is is really just

what we’ve talked about in this episode

or in this podcast throughout each

episode what we’re talking about is is

really changing our life through

redesigning our landscapes and

redesigning how we perceive our

landscapes right so we can also design

to reduce maintenance that will reduce

the frequency or the need for violations

okay so there’s a couple episodes I

really recommend you check out if you

really want to dive into this so the

first well this is two episodes actually

as episodes two and three go over low

maintenance landscape basics okay so the

the core pieces of low maintenance

landscape design I really recommend you

check out episodes two and three I’ll

have a link in the show notes to each of

these links or each of these episodes

and also episode 20 so episode 20 was

easy landscape principles for homeowners

associations and local codes so that’s

another good one to check out in order

to avoid violations in the future so the

last piece I want to stay here with

avoiding long term violations and

redesigning your landscape is that I

offer consultation one-on-one digital

consultations and if you want some help

I can talk with you about what you need

to focus on in your landscape what

specific needs you have and what things

you can do to make the greatest impact

to avoid violations in the future to

reduce the amount of maintenance you

need to do with your landscape if that

sounds like something that’s interesting

to you you can check out easy living

yards comm slash consulting and there

you’ll find all the information you need

on whether or not you want to join up

with a consultation with me so make sure

you check out the show notes for all the

links I dropped in today’s show and with

that guys it’s a wrap for the day so

thanks for tuning in make sure you live

with passion and make tomorrow better

than today