Q: Heard from a friend living in a nearby community that his HOA is being sued. Reports are that some kid on a bike crashed into a palm tree and cut his arm. No details exactly where this vicious tree was: adjacent to a sidewalk, on a remote slope of the common elements, etc. Appears the tree was trimmed in the usual way where there are short pieces of the “fronds” still attached. Pieces must have been sharp enough to cause the injury. Our board has discussed this matter and is wondering if “shaving” or “skinning” the trunks is warranted — at least up to 8 feet to 10 feet in height. Not sure if either term is correct but it produces a “textured” and not one with, uh, sharp edges. Do we really have to go to this extreme? Would every HOA, park, casino, etc have to do the same? How idiot-proof can you make an environment? Pad the streets so if someone fell, they wouldn’t hurt themselves? Pad block walls so if someone bumped into them, they wouldn’t hurt themselves? The potential cost to shave trees could be enormous on anyone or everyone owning a potentially deadly palm tree. Is this bordering on absurdity?
A: I think that we all can agree that there is no way to make any community 100 percent safe from harm. To protect the association, we obtain insurance coverage and it is important for both the board and the community manager to understand what is covered and what is not covered. It is prudent to have the insurance representative attend a workshop or board meeting to review the policy, especially the list of exclusions.
It is important for all to be cognizant of any potential liability. In a recent famous playground case, the defect was well-known but not properly corrected by the association. In your case, since an incident has occurred, the association should have a thorough inspection with the landscape company to see if there are trees with potential hazards. With all of the recent strong winds, it does not take a rocket scientist to see trees that could easily fall on vehicles, roofs and buildings and possibly even people.
Q: I recently resigned from my homeowners association board because of vulgar, racist behavior from the board president. When I notified the management company the representatives didn’t seem concerned about his behavior.
Now, I’m finding out the management company has emailed a resident accusing me of collusion during a past community yard sale with a resident.
I’m not sure what my options are since I don’t have a lot of faith in the board or management company.
What do you suggest?
A: You would like to think that the board of directors would have taken a stand as to the president’s behavior, as that should have been the first course of action. The management company is at a disadvantage when it comes to inappropriate board behavior if the manager does not have the backing of the board. In this case, the only option you have is to file a complaint with the division pertaining to the behavior of the board president.
As to the alleged email, you should wait until you receive any formal complaint from the board before taking any action.
Q: Are HOAs required to tell homeowners why a manger was let go?
A: No. The last thing that any association wants to have happen is a wrongful termination lawsuit. Employment is confidential, especially if the manager was terminated.
Barbara Holland is a certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager. Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.