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Subject: Verbal Agreements and Tree Maintenance
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08/28/2006 2:44 PM  
I am a newly elected board member, with a newly elected board President. We inherited a long-standing HOA issue regarding responsibility for tree maintenance. Its a long story, but in essence the following occured:
A homeowner purchased about 50 trees for his property and planted them too close together. When he learned that, he offered to transplant about 30 of the trees to 2 properties that line the common road to the common area (the properties are not part of the common area). The previous homeowners agreed to have the trees on their property, if the HOA would maintain them. Supposedly this was agreed to many years ago, and there is no documentation. Now the 30 trees need maintenance (pruning, etc) and the property owners are asking the HOA to pay for it. The HOA believes the trees to be on individual property, and therefore the responsibility of the property owners. Anyone know of any guidelines or precedents on a matter like this?


08/28/2006 3:48 PM  
Susan, the HOA should not have agreed to maintain elements which are not within the boundries of the association. You say the agreement was with a PREVIOUS OWNERS. If the agreement is not in writting OR if there is a written agreement and it did not specify the obligation was with the land and would continue with a new property owner, than I do not think there is an obligation on the part of the association to continue to maintain beyond the agreement with the previous owners.


08/28/2006 3:54 PM  
verbal contracts are not worth the paper they are printed on. Legally, they are just as binding, however, proving the provisions is next to impossible.

Unless you have some good, trustworthy evidence (people you believe, who were there, etc.), I would say Roger is right.. what was agreed upon can't be proven, so the HOA should stick with doing what they are supposed to do, and that is take care of common areas, not private property.


08/28/2006 5:08 PM  
As a back-up suggestion, if the board really doesn't want to maintain the trees or keep the prior agreement, you could approach the owners and simply state that if the association is going to have to maintain them, then you will remove them so that future board's don't have to worry about them. If the owner doesn't want them removed, they can agree to maintain them.

If an owner claims the board's reponsible, then clearly the board has the right to remove them.

This isn't going to "win friends and influence people", but then neither will the board deciding not to maintain them.

This one's sort of "off-the-wall", so I'd run it by the association's attorney before implementing it.

Joseph West
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Community Associations Network, LLC

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08/28/2006 6:22 PM  
I wouldn't agree to maintain them. I would ask for documentation of the agreement because you can't rely on handshake and verbal agreements that may have been made. You may want to find out who was on the board at that time and if they still live there ask them about this. Otherwise it sounds like someone is just trying to cover a mistake he made many years ago.


08/29/2006 6:10 AM  

I would think you would get some very good advice. I’m in the process of learning myself, so I couldn’t tell you for sure.
I would think if the trees were at one point maintained by the HOA then they could decide to cut them down completely, if they wanted too.

Unfortunately the HOA should never have made such an agreement with the previous homeowner.

Best of luck,

You should get some good advice from many that respond to post on this discussion board.

Charles E. Wafer Jr.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Verbal Agreements and Tree Maintenance

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