How do I overturn an HOA decision? This reader doesn’t agree with a decision the HOA board made and wants to know if they have any recourse.

Q: The association board of my building wants to take down basic pine trees behind my unit. The trees are healthy and provide no danger to the building. These trees provide privacy, shade and comfort to my unit. It is one of the main reasons I purchased the unit. Do I have any recourse?

How Do I Overturn an HOA Decision?

A: We can understand your frustration. Have you talked to the board to find out why they are taking down the trees? Are the trees infected with something you can’t see? Could they beharboring pests of some sort? Are they planning on replacing the pine trees with other trees or is their plan to leave the area clear of all trees? 

In any event, most association boards have wide latitude in governing their associations. Boards can decide how to decorate hallways, choose landscaping for common areas and can even decide to make improvements to common areas. An association board has broad authority to handle the affairs of the association. Unfortunately, association boards will not make the best decisions at all times and, in some cases, may make poor decisions.

Talking to Other Owners in the HOA About the Board Decision

In your case, the association likely has the right to take down the pine trees behind the unit, and they can decide whether to put something new up (or not) without consulting with the owners. At this point, your best bet is to talk to other owners in the association and see if they would prefer to keep the trees. If the trees are still standing and enough owners would prefer to have the trees than have them cut down, the association board may change its mind.

However, if you talk to your neighbors about the tree issue and find out that most of your neighbors either don’t care or don’t like the trees, your only option then is to convince the board (perhaps by rallying your neighbors) to replace the trees with others that will grow in and give you the privacy and shade that you like of the current trees. It may never be the same for you with the pine trees gone, but if you can get replacement trees and landscaping put in, you might end up okay. 

Finally, in terms of recourse, that’s a tricky question. With the information you’ve sent us, we can’t tell if anything was done inappropriately by the association that would give you any legal recourse. Given that, your best bet is to quickly figure out what the association is planning to do, and why, and then get your neighbors together so that the end product meets the needs and desires of most owners in the association.

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