When people share a community, a mass of opinions can clash, and this is often the case when it comes to trees. While some love their vibrance, shade, beauty and natural aesthetic, others scoff at their clumsy roots, dropped leaves and sun-blocking canopies. To help you more clearly understand your rights and those of others, here’s a brief look at common HOA tree disputes and how to handle them.
Who Owns What?
Although you should take time to understand the peculiarities of your HOA’s by-laws, most conclude that a tree growing inside property lines belongs to that homeowner. If a tree splits the boundary, neighbors share it, and if it grows on one property bug overhangs another, one person owns it but the other can and should maintain the encroaching branches.
Note: If you own the property on which a neighboring tree overhangs and you find it a nuisance, you can cut any branches that fall within your property line. However, be careful about going about this; if you endanger the tree in the process, you could be liable for damages.
Common HOA Tree Disputes
The biggest issue that arises between homeowners often involves one person wanting to remove a tree that another wants to remain. This situation can get sticky because the HOA has a duty to maintain common areas while balancing the needs of an individual and the community. When someone wants to remove a tree, the questions at play often include:
- What do the overall landscaping plans look like?
- Who owns the tree?
- Who is responsible for tree maintenance?
- How long has the tree been there?
- Is the tree diseased or dying?
- Is the tree causing damage?
- Does it grow in an over-planted area?
- What are the budget constraints?
- Is the tree a liability?
- Are there any privacy/view issues involved?
Communication is Everything
If you find yourself in the midst of a tree dispute with another homeowner or the HOA, the best thing you can do is engage in open, honest communication with all involved. While you want to understand your rights, consider how the situation impacts your neighbors and the community. For example, if you live in a condo and plant a tree on your balcony that grows tall enough to block the view of a resident above, that tree will most likely be removed. Your right to plant can’t hinder another’s right to see the skyline.
Although emotions can run high when it comes to your lifestyle and preferences, taking a hard stance or ignoring the needs of others can only weaken your argument. You want to personalize your landscaping while being a conscientious neighbor and community member.
For all your tree service needs, call Gordon Pro Tree Service in Buford, GA at 770-271-6072.