Q: There is a tree on the side of our house, in a common area, that is dropping needles on our house and patio cover. Its branches hang over the roof of the house. For six month I have tried to get the management company of the homeowners association to trim the tree. I have sent pictures, paperwork, emails, and at least three calls a month. They respond by saying that they are looking at the problem.
They are neglecting their duties as a management company. The last two months, a new company has taken charge of management. I also send them all the info. They also tell me they are looking at the problem. What are my options? Can I sue?
A: In most cases, before a homeowner can sue an association, the homeowner must exhaust all administrative remedies. Having made this statement, I would first recommend you contact the management company one more time and specifically request a meeting with the board of directors. This request appears to be quite reasonable and not an exhausting task for the association.
After meeting with the board, if this problem persists, contact the Ombudsman’s Office to discuss a number of options from intervention to mediation. If those options don’t solve the tree problem, the homeowner could then file a formal complaint with the court.
Q: Our HOA has placed surveillance cameras on common grounds, on trees facing buildings. They are installed and removed, appear and disappear without explanation without the consent or acknowledgment of the property owner and residents. This seems a violation of sorts. Don’t all owners deserve the common courtesy and respect to be informed of cameras in use covering community grounds and buildings? Is this another instance of power abuse and selective information sharing by an HOA that does not treat all community members equally and or thinks they are dealing with ignorant, ill-informed or apathetic owners?
A: I would recommend you address this issue at the next board meeting during the second homeowner forum. There could be some logical reason for the shifting of the cameras’ locations.
At the very least, the board should notice homeowners that cameras are being used on common grounds for surveillance. As to the board, I would highly recommend they discuss this issue with their legal counsel as to what can and cannot be done, as well as to proper notification and/or signs warning that cameras may be in use.
Your final option would be to contact the Ombudsman’s Office. The surveillance cameras probably would be of interest to them.
Barbara Holland is a certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager. Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.