12 Questions to Ask Your Landscape Contractor


Sometimes problems occur with a landscaping project. This may be the result of poor communication, poor workmanship or issues beyond our control.

Nevertheless, whilst an association cannot guarantee our Members individually, we do endeavour to assist the client and our Members to reach a resolution that satisfies all parties. MLSA encourages all of its Members to listen to their clients’ concerns and work to address them. If you are a client of a MLSA Member and this is not working, our advice is to follow these steps:

  1. Talk to the landscaper – If your relationship is still amicable this is the easiest, fastest and usually the most cost-efficient way to resolve the issue.
  2. If the relationship has soured and you are unable to resolve the dispute directly with your landscape contractor you can contact us by completing the ‘Complaints and Mediation Form’ below. This is a service free of charge to MLSA Members and their clients. Please be aware that our Complaints and Mediation Officers are industry experts, trained, qualified and highly experienced, but they are not registered mediators. They are able to assess the quality of workmanship and offer expert opinion only. 
  3. If the matter is appropriate for MLSA involvement and all parties are willing to participate, our Complaints and Mediation Officer will investigate and, where necessary, begin a mediation process. Note that MLSA is only able to offer expert opinion on workmanship and defects, we are not a legal institution. Disputes arising around issues of payment, intellectual property or other legal matters will need to be handled by standard legal channels.
  4. If the dispute still cannot be resolved and a legal course of action is required then the SA Office of Fair Trading may be a good resource to get started with this. To contact SA Fairwork, visit their website at www.fairwork.gov.au

We also encourage you to complete our ‘Complaints and Mediation Form’. We keep a database of all complaints. It is important for the integrity of all our Members and the industry generally to know and censure operators who consistently attract complaints. 


The Mediation Process

MLSA Members and consumers can access the MLSA’s free initial dispute resolution service if a dispute occurs with a consumer, designer or contractor over a building issue. This service is available across SA Members. As with Fair Trading complaints, MLSA responds to building complaints only, where the trader and/or consumer have indicated possible defective workmanship or materials. Where a trader and consumer are unable to resolve their dispute, MLSA will attempt to mediate an outcome that is suitable to all parties concerned.

MLSA realises that there is a greater chance of successfully resolving a dispute where there is early intervention and can utilise industry experts who are trade qualified and highly experienced.

If a MLSA Member is in dispute with a consumer or owner-builder and wishes to access this service, they should complete the ‘Complaints and Mediation; Form.

In response to the complaint the MLSA will contact both parties to clarify the nature of the dispute and to seek agreement, from both parties, to participate in this intervention.

In order for the MLSA to proceed, both parties must be willing to participate in this process. Depending on the nature of the matter, the possible outcomes could be:

  • That the matter may be resolved at the outset with a MLSA representative contacting both the MLSA Member and consumer to undertake phone intervention regarding the issues raised;
  • If the matter involves defective and/or incomplete work, it will be referred for a possible on-site mediation with a MLSA representative. If it is determined that there is defective or incomplete work, the MLSA representative will discuss the best possible outcome.
  • If the dispute is solely in relation to the payment of outstanding monies or a progress payment, Members will be advised to lodge a claim with the SA Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SCAT).

Disclaimer:  All claims, disputes, and controversies arising out of, or in relation to, the performance, interpretation, application, or enforcement of MLSA Members, the MLSA shall refer the disputing parties to a to an optional preliminary disputes and resolutions mediation service conducted on behalf of the MLSA before, and as a condition precedent to, the initiation of any litigation action. It is a condition of using the MLSA service that if, during the mediation, a party (“offering party”) makes an offer of compromise to another party which is not accepted by the said party (“refusing party”) the MLSA has no liability or responsibility to the outcome of the dispute.