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Subject: Home Owner planting Trees on HOA Common Area
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Author Messages
MatthewD
(Maryland)

Posts:2


02/03/2011 6:39 PM  
Greetings,

I'm curious if anyone has had this situation. We have a home owner that is offering to plant 19 Leyland Cypress trees outside of his back property line on HOA Common Area. There is a road, then the HOA common area with sidewalk and then his fence on his property line. He wants to plant the trees just past his fence as a buffer from the road, but this is HOA property.

Several questions come to mind, who owns the trees? If one tree dies, who is responsible for replacing and maintaining? Would this increase our landscaping costs since cutting around 19 trees takes more time?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

Matt
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:9145


02/03/2011 6:55 PM  
My Association has had requests from owners over the years to plant trees in the common area. The Association will only approve those applications providing that the owner takes full responsibility for the tree (pruning, removal if needed, etc.). This is then listed in the disclosure statement to any potential buyer that the new owner would then be responsible for the trees.

If the Association wants to take responsibility for the trees, that is fine but it should be decided from the beginning and the trees considered a donation.

Tim
JohnW18
(Georgia)

Posts:18


02/03/2011 7:11 PM  
I'm curious to know if there is enough room on his own property for the trees.
DonnaS
(Tennessee)

Posts:5671


02/04/2011 1:37 AM  


Mathew,

Just be aware that the Leland Cypress can grow to 60 feet tall.
BuddyJ
(Maryland)

Posts:20


02/04/2011 9:31 AM  
Mathew,
You should reconsider the choice of Leland Cypress trees because they can die off quickly and become a huge-ugly mess - there are many dead Leland Cypress trees in Maryland now.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:4818


02/04/2011 10:57 AM  
It would be great to approve this and make the owner responsible....However, trees outlive owners. Plus owner's move and most likely won't include the care of the trees to the new owners.

You have to think in long terms when it comes to landscaping. My vote would be a "NO" to the planting of these trees as they can cause more headaches than they prevent. Instead consult some landscaping experts to find a compromise.

Remember the HOA is EVERY HOMEOWNER's land. It's best to take this approach when making a decision like this. Will this benefit all or one? Will all the other homeowner's agree to this? This is one of those decisions that the homeowner needs to present to ALL the owners before they take action.

Former HOA President
DonnaS
(Tennessee)

Posts:5671


02/04/2011 11:04 AM  

Mathew,

If the H.O. plants the trees on common property, it will be considered a DONATION from the owner. The common area is designated as common which makes the association responsible for any care and concequences of the trees being there. My vote would be a definite NO. He wants them planted for his own privacy and noise abatement, not for the beauty of the area outside of his fence.

He apparently does not want to plant them within his own fence, probably because of the loss of yard area. My comments would be...too bad. You cannot encroach on common area, period!
MatthewD
(Maryland)

Posts:2


02/05/2011 6:59 AM  
Thank you everyone for the great response, I'm just a home owner trying to gather some information as a recommendation to the board. After digging, some more information came to light that a previous board group of our community allowed trees and shrubs to be planted in common areas so long as the home owner that planted them is responsible for their care. So unfortunately a precedence has already been set, but there is no documentation stating that the home owners are responsible.

I believe we will probably allow the trees to be planted since, but get a formal document in writing that the trees are the care of the home owner and any future owners of the home. We will just have to make sure the information is disclosed at closing if new homeowners move in.

Thanks again to everyone for their time.

Matt
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:9145


02/05/2011 7:03 AM  
Posted By MatthewD on 02/05/2011 6:59 AM
Thank you everyone for the great response, I'm just a home owner trying to gather some information as a recommendation to the board. After digging, some more information came to light that a previous board group of our community allowed trees and shrubs to be planted in common areas so long as the home owner that planted them is responsible for their care. So unfortunately a precedence has already been set, but there is no documentation stating that the home owners are responsible.

I believe we will probably allow the trees to be planted since, but get a formal document in writing that the trees are the care of the home owner and any future owners of the home. We will just have to make sure the information is disclosed at closing if new homeowners move in.

Thanks again to everyone for their time.

Matt




Matt,

The formal document would be the conditional approval letter (you may plant trees under the condition and understanding that you and all future owners of the lot will be fully responsible for the care, maintenance and/or removal of the trees). Additionally, even with precedence, the board can limit the number and type of tree if it's a concern.

SusanW1
(Michigan)

Posts:5202


02/06/2011 7:11 AM  
And, of course, there is the enforcement issues.

What if the home is sold? Will the new owner commitment to taking care of trees in a common area?

If I were on the board, I would consider this project as a $$$ donation for stock only. The type of tree would be agreed-up, after consulting with a landscape architect. The HOA should be responsible for the upkeep, including the maintenance and replacement.

Does this line of trees benefit the HOA or is this for his benefit?

See, that's why they say, Beware of Greeks . . . .
MariaC
(Maryland)

Posts:15


02/08/2011 11:06 AM  
Hi Matthew,

In my (Maryland) HOA, we have refused requests by individual homeowners to plant trees in common areas and in easements, even when the homeowner says he/she will take care of them, because our documents decree that the HOA is responsible for maintenance in those areas.

I would worry that even a conditional approval letter could cause later legal problems if a future homeowner doesn't want to care for the trees - or if the present homeowner changes his mind. Common areas are set up by developers in an association's land plats, which are legal documents. If your covenants decree that the HOA must maintain those areas (as ours do), a judge could rule that a simple approval letter does not overrule your HOA's governing documents (or that it can't overrule them in perpetuity), and then grant the contesting homeowner's request to refuse maintenance. Then the trees are your responsibility. And Leyland Cyrpresses are notorious for falling over (shallow roots + great height).

Also, our governing documents have clear language stating that no precedent is set when a decision contrary to our governing documents is made, which would, for us, defeat that homeowner's claim of a precedent made because other homeowners were allowed to plant trees and shrubs in your common areas.

As others have said, you've got to consider the long-term consequences of decisions. Good luck!



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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Home Owner planting Trees on HOA Common Area



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