Quality of Life in 48105>Question Details

2vegas, Home Seller in 48105

Condo question:

Asked by 2vegas, 48105 Mon Aug 24, 2009

I live in Nevada but bought a second home in Michigan.The association cut down a beautiful crab tree in front of my unit that blocked my 2nd floor windows against my wishes in favor of 3 little bushes.They redid the landscaping.Now the entire building can see in my master bedroom,the room is hotter so that my AC isnt helping and I have added a fan. I loved looking at the leaves and my bird feeders,opening the windows during a rain, which I cant do now. I didn't have this in Nevada and the charm of the unit. Now I look at garage tops.They also redid the sidewalk so that the units egress in front of my window. Is there any law that protects a condo owner from change in what they purchased? The bushes are in front of my basement egress. I now live in a fishbowl. I feel this has now decreased my property value. Who wants a unit everyone can see in?

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Missy Caulk’s answer
2Vegas, if the whole community had a landscaping overhaul, chances are it was in the works for a long time. I would start with the homeowner board, if not satisfied go to the next association meeting. Ask to see the notes where this was decided.
If they have all of this then ask for permission to plant a larger tree and some bushes around the window. Unless they did this on all the buildings chances are you can re-plant.

Some condo communities do massive overhauls of landscaping on a rotation basis.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 25, 2009
Hello 2vegas and thanks for your post.

Unfortunately, in this situation, you are powerless to make changes or to request restoration of a large tree at your home. I would not waste time in consulting an attorney because the property in question (the area outside of your condominium) is common area and is wholly controlled by the homeowners association and the Board of Directors. As a condominium owner, you own only the "box of air" bounded by the perimeter walls of your unit. Anything outside of the condominium is considered common area, and is controlled by the homeowners association. You can certainly argue diminution of property value due to loss of the tree, but that's so subjective, that the litigation costs, time and stress would outweigh the outcome.

However, Fred brings up a good point. Too often homeowners overlook the importance of becoming involved in their homeowners association until AFTER something like this happens to irrevocably change your home and the surroundings. In fact, most homeowners associations are desperate to get help from the members to fill vacant positions on committees and the Board of Directors. Unfortunately, volunteers only come forward after they've been thoroughly ticked off by something the Board has done. Believe me, 25 years in the "HOA trenches" and I've got stories to tell.

But I digress...

At this time, there are certainly things you can do to help limit exposure in your home. Blinds and sheers are available to screen the view and allow light into your home. Hunter Douglas, for example, offers beautiful blinds that when closed provide a wonderful screen, and when open, provide opaque views of the surrounding areas. This will help add to the efficiency of the air conditioning in the home. Also, if your association allows it, putting an umbrella, awning or screen at your home will also help screen your bedroom from the surrounding homes.

Finally, talk with the Board of Directors to learn why the change was made and to ask if a process can be put into place that better addresses the concerns of the homeowners in the future. I'm pretty certain that the reason for removing the tree had more to do with plumbing and preservation of the buildings than simply, and without concern, removing the tree at your home. Unfortunately, eventually most trees have to come down, and crab apples--wtih their more brittle wood--can develop breaks and cracks that make the tree unsafe. Speak with your Board of Directors about your concerns and learn why the change was made.

Good luck!!

Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
Co-Author "Homeowners Associations: A Guide to Leadership and Participation"
Co-Host "Naked Real Estate" on blogtalkradio.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 25, 2009
Sure, the laws are your bi-laws, those are changed by votes, in fact most things in a condo happen by committee. I am sure they did not do it to damage you and i am sure they talked about it for a long time before they did it. It is a shame you were not part of the discussions. Get some blinds, have your A/C checked for leaks(?) and try to find out their process and reason before you jump at an attorney.
Fred, you are right "get involved", but calling an attorney before talking with the Board is... well a waste of time on the attorney's part and money for 2vegas.
Talk with the Association Board, maybe you can buy a tree and plant it (with association permission of course) instead of paying money to an attorney to sue some involved neighbors who are trying to improve the property (?).
I am sorry to hear about your tree being cut down, but really it belonged to the association (or maybe it belonged to the world, I never like to cut down trees). Associations typically do not spend money without first deliberating about it (a lot). It is a shame you were not part of the process but I do not think calling an attorney is the right thing to do in this case. Maybe talking with the condo Board about planting a new tree would make more sense. This tree they took out could have been causing harm to the structure, the underground plumbing, or it may have been at the end of its' life (some trees just don't last very long).
I would like to hear back from you that you have gotten involved and become part of a good solution.
I suggest to all who live in associations to become involved, read the meeting minutes and help make good sound decissions about the property you own together.
Good Luck & Good Night.
Todd Lands, Associate Broker, REALTOR, GRI, CSP

When you think of real estate, think of LANDS!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 24, 2009
See a Real Estate Attorney for Legal Advice.

2Vegas, I am sorry this happened. What a bummer.

Your post reinforces something I suggest to all Condo Owners and Condo Buyers - get involved in your Condo Association. Be an Officer or Director if possible. Attend all meetings and keep abreast of what is going on.

Granted, many Associations are controlled by a small group of people who use Proxy Votes to remain in power.

Nonetheless, it is imperative that owners be involved in their Condo Association.

Regrets, and see an Attorney to determine if what was done was legal, and if you have any recourse.

Fred Griffin
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 24, 2009
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