The HOA is Taking Away My Trees! What Can I do?

In one form or another, sometimes trees have to go. Removal or trees and bushes can be a very big emotional issue. It should not be taken lightly. Owners care!! I will blog here about it for the owners and then on my other blog (California Condo and HOA LawBlog) for the board members and managers.

Here is the question that triggered the topic:

“Our condo complex is going to be turning over to HOA by the builder very soon. The Management CO. has made a punch list for the builder, two of items on the punch list is to removed the rose brushes & the mature pepper trees that in front our home in the common area that will to be taken over by HOA soon. The area I live in are the former models and that’s why our street area is so nice with mature trees, etc. Is there any recourse that we as condo owners can do?”

Before doing anything I would suggest asking for detailed information from the board as to how the decision was made to ask the developer to remove mature trees. There may be a legitimate reason and so don’t go off half-cocked without full information.

Then, if you disagree with the information (which may relate to concerns about invasive roots, too many trees in a small area, disease or the like), get your own expert to give you an unbiased opinion on the topic.

Armed with contrary information, take it to the board! You have a right to:

Speak up at board meeting during the forum time.

Write letters to the board, manager, and/or other associaton members asking for support.

Have an attorney analyze the situation for you and possibly write a letter.

Bring an action in court – an attorney can help you sort out what the causes of action would be.

Think outside the box!

I have assisted owners with letters to boards. Sometimes the board cannot see the forest for the trees, and if you offer them a solution, such as accepting responsibility for root damage, offering to have the trees maintained at your expense, offer creative root barrier or  trimming techniques (if it is a view issue), etc., you can gain ground.

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2 Responses to The HOA is Taking Away My Trees! What Can I do?
  1. Lorinda Lella
    June 14, 2012 | 5:01 pm

    I have the exact opposite problem. My area in front of my condo is so overgrown with trees that my deck is covered in moss. It never gets any sun and in the past 6 months I’ve had two issues with squirrels entering my unit because the trees are too close to the units. I won’t even go out on my deck it’s so disgusting and gross. When I called to complain about a squirrel damaging my AC and getting into the house I told them that I believe the problems are happening because of all the overgrown trees. They were not very receptive and said that landscaping wasn’t paid to remove or cut back trees, but its obviously causing a problem with the homeowners in my unit. Who is responsible for removing these trees. I want to enjoy my deck again an be squirrel free!

    • Beth Grimm
      July 12, 2012 | 4:52 am

      I can’t tell for sure who is responsible for the trees – I would have to review the association governing documents to determine that. If the Board is responsible, and the trees are overruning the deck, I would say you have the right to have the trees limbs trimmed back at your expense – so that you could use your deck or eliminate the squirrel problem. You could even seek recovery of the costs in small claims court, but you would have to show you made a written demand. If the trees are causing damage to or threatening to cause damage to pipes or the foundations, whoever is responsible should do what needs to be done to prevent that soon, or that person -or the association if that is the case – could be held responsible for considerable addiional damages.