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Subject: Can the HOA make an owner plant a tree?
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JosephH2
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:49


08/07/2013 4:13 PM  
I am president of a relatively new homeowner controlled HOA.

Our 75 units (townhouses & semi-attached) were all built by the developer with a red maple tree on the front lawn.
Although there’s nothing in any of our documentation that says that the tree is required, most of the board members feel it is part of the “look” of our development.

The tree on one of our owner’s lot is dying. Since our board has to approve any exterior changes, we feel if the owner wants to replace the tree the board can require it be of the same type.

My question is.....what if the owner wants to remove the dead tree and NOT replace it?

Do you think the board could/should require that the owner replace the dead tree?
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:8995


08/07/2013 4:20 PM  
I don't.

Based on what you provided, the fact that the CC&Rs don't require a tree, then I also don't think the Board can force that a tree be planted. You are correct that they can require that the tree, if planted, be of a specific species.
MoM1
(Massachusetts)

Posts:56


08/07/2013 4:49 PM  
Are the grounds and landscaping part of the common elements or do these belong to the owner? Read your master deed carefully. If your HOA owns the tree it is association to remove the dying tree and replace it.
JosephH2
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:49


08/07/2013 5:20 PM  
Sorry, I should have provided more info.

The grounds and landscaping are not common elements. They are owned by the homeowner but our Declaration states:

"All lawns and shrubbery within the Community, including lawns and shrubbery upon any Unit are designated as Controlled Facilities and shall be maintained by the Association, with the expenses of maintenance being Common Expenses."

SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:2869


08/07/2013 8:14 PM  
"All lawns and shrubbery within the Community, including lawns and shrubbery upon any Unit are designated as Controlled Facilities and shall be maintained by the Association, with the expenses of maintenance being Common Expenses."


Sounds to me like your documents state the lawns and shrubbery are to be maintained and paid for by the association. If your not doing that, it appears your not following your declaration.
JosephH2
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:49


08/07/2013 11:46 PM  
I'm not sure what "maintained" means.

Our board thinks it means things like pruning, etc.

We are not clear on a tree dying.
JosephH2
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:49


08/07/2013 11:48 PM  
What would happen if the lawn or a big part of the lawn dyed?

Would the board be able to require the owner to replant the lawn?
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:4778


08/08/2013 5:09 AM  
Our HOA required that ONLY Bermuda grass to be planted in the yards if needing replacement or patching. We did take care of the lawncare and was responsible for that. However, you were responsible for replacing the grass if YOU damaged it with Bermuda. If the HOA did the damage, then we would replace the grass with Bermuda.

In this case, I think the owner should remove that tree if it is dying and replace it with the like. It is about the continuity. Which is what your HOA is all about. Consistent aesthetics. The real question here is if the owner should pay for replacing that tree or the HOA? If the HOA pays for it, then they can make sure the owner has the right tree and is planted correctly.

Majority rules in a HOA. If a majority has a certain type of tree in the yard, then you all have that type of tree.

Former HOA President
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:3987


08/08/2013 6:14 AM  
Joseph

Based on what you posted I say the tree, shrubs, and the lawn are the responsibility of the association. I say your HOA should replace the dead tree.

Does your association maintain the trees, shrubs, lawns like in trim, cut, fertilize, etc.? That is how my HOA (standalone private homes on a deeded lot) operates. Our HOA does all outside landscaping thus we are responsible, not the owner. We are in the process of resodding parts of some lawns at the HOA's expense. Landscaping cost are 50% of our budget.

As aside. Each of our homes control their own sprinkler system. Last year (hot, dry summer) we had issues with some not watering their grass enough or at all. We sent a letter out informing people that while the HOA was responsible for normal wear and tear. Any damages due to lack of watering was the responsibility of the owner. Repair of such damage would be billed to the owner. Well we had such a wet spring and summer that this has not become an issue but it could have. Some on both sides of that issue were waiting....LOL
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:2869


08/08/2013 6:42 AM  
Would the board be able to require the owner to replant the lawn?


Where does it say the owner has to pay for anything as an individual? You already stated your docs say "....the expenses of maintenance being Common Expenses." So the expense of replanting would come out of the HOA budget.

I'm not sure what "maintained" means. Our board thinks it means things like pruning, etc. We are not clear on a tree dying.


SInce your docs specifically mention "lawns and shrubbery ........shall be maintained by the Association" I would say if the association didn't mow the lawn, that would be considered un-maintainted. So the HOA needs to mow the lawn. This would include everything else.

Why do you think the owners are individually responsible for lawn and tree care? Just because you have always done it that way?
What language in your documents supports owners being responsible as an invididual for lawncare expenses?
DaveD3
(Michigan)

Posts:522


08/08/2013 6:33 PM  
I have to agree with everyone else. Your docs are VERY clear that the maintenance of lawns and shrubberies is the HOA responsibility. Now, one could debate the definition of a shrubbery, perhaps asking Roger the Shrubber for some advice (Ni!), but if a tree dies and that tree is a "shrubbery", then it's the HOA's responsibility. If it's NOT a shrubbery, then the owner is still not responsible, since you have nothing stating that those trees are to be replaced at the expense of the owners.
FrankS10
(Kansas)

Posts:275


08/09/2013 7:29 AM  
I hope oak trees don't file a discrimination lawsuit

It amazes me that some of these things are actually debated. I guess a mono-culture and look (called cookie cutters where I live.)is more aesthetically pleasing?

Here's my advice, whenever it appears the By-Laws are not specific enough for the Board to be almost unanimous in their direction, why not use your communication channels to ask the membership for their thoughts? Just seems to me that a Board is there to keep harmony as well as other desired goals.
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