How to Protect Yourself: Lawn Service ContractsSource: Florida Attorney General's Office
Lawn service companies provide services that eliminate time-consuming lawn maintenance activities such as mowing, edging, watering, fertilizing and seeding of lawns as well as the pruning and maintenance of trees and shrubs. Some companies require expensive and long-term lawn care contracts, so you should take the time to investigate and find a reliable company with a good reputation.
Consult your neighbors.
Talk with others in your neighborhood that have used lawn care services. Find out which companies have done a good job and why.
Check on licensing and complaint record.
If the company will make chemical applications, other than fertilizer, verify that the company has a pest control business license issued by the state. The practice of commercial pest control in Florida is strictly regulated under the provisions of the Structural Pest Control Act, Chapter 482, Florida Statutes. This law is administered and enforced by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. You may contact the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA for any licensure and complaint history on any pest control business licensee. Also, check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the company. Verify that the company is insured to cover any accidents that might occur while work is being performed.
Read your contract carefully.
See if there are any extra charges for special services, such as fertilizing, disease control or reseeding. The contract should specifically state the term of the service contract and the costs of contract renewal. The contract should also state whether or not the services provided are guaranteed.
Make sure that you are receiving customized service.
Each lawn is different. Your lawn does not necessarily need the same treatment as your neighbor’s. Ask to see evidence of specific and real problems before you agree to any treatment.
Use care in the authorization of chemical treatment.
If pesticides are going to be used on your lawn, find out what specific lawn problems are being addressed and inquire about the availability of less harmful chemical compounds or alternatives to chemical treatment. You are entitled to a copy of the pesticide label if you request it. If pesticides are used, find out what you need to do during the chemical treatment and for how long. Should you stay indoors, keep your windows closed, bring in lawn furniture or your children’s toys? How long should you stay off treated areas? What about your pet’s safety? Florida law (Section 482.2265(2), Florida Statutes) requires the posting of a sign at the time of application to notify persons that the lawn has recently been treated. You should still be mindful of small children in the neighborhood, who may not understand what the sign means, to protect them from any problems that might arise from the pesticide application.
File a complaint.
You may file a complaint against a lawn service provider with the Attorney General’s Office online at www.myfloridalegal.com or by phone at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM. Additionally, you may file a complaint with the Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services online at www.800helpfla.com or by phone at 1-800-HELP-FLA.
You may also file a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which acts as the State's consumer complaint clearinghouse, at www.floridaconsumerhelp.com.