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Tree Cutting without HOA Permission

Discussion in 'Other Legal Issues' started by member 130088, Nov 7, 2020.

  1. member 130088

    member 130088 Law Topic Starter Guest

    I live in a small HOA community in Southern CA. When I bought the house, there were some big trees already on the easement. Basically, my property line includes the easement, but I can’t develop anything on it. This easement is considered a Common Maintenance Area, meaning that HOA is responsible to take care of those trees. HOA is responsible to do annual maintenance, tree trimming, tree inspection etc… But our HOA community has several of those Common Maintenance Areas with some even more bigger trees. I don’t believe the HOA is actually done all the things that they’re supposed to do on a regular basis.

    As I mentioned, these are big Eucalyptus trees. I made several requests to the HOA to have them trimmed because they could potentially fall and pose a danger not only to the house, but my family. However, after several emails, one certified mail and multiple phone calls, HOA just ignored my request.

    Then one of the big Eucalyptus tree fell over the fence and onto my front yard. Fortunately, nothing major was damaged besides the fence. That fallen tree caught their attention, but they only sent out someone to remove the fallen tree. However, my request to trim all other big trees still went un-fulfilled. I gave up after that.

    There was a tree guy working on some small tree on next door neighbor. I went to get him to give me a quote to trim the trees that I un-successfully to get the HOA to do so. Couple months prior, there was a tree branch fell and almost hit my daughter. That was the last straw for me. Long story short, one thing after another, the tree guy used scare tactic to talk me into doing more than just trimming the tree after I told him about the Eucalyptus tree incident. At that vulnerable moment, I agreed to let him charge me more to cut down some trees.

    Fast forward, now HOA is aware of my tree cutting without authorization. They summoned me to a violation hearing and already threatened via email to make me pay for all the fees to restore the trees and plus any additional fines they might impose to my account.

    In hindsight, I didn’t intend to get these trees cut/trimmed at all if the HOA fulfilled their responsibilities. But I can’t unwind the clock and undo what had transpired. I’ve already spent a ton of money on the tree services. It was costly.

    Appreciate in advance for any advice that you might have.

    P.S. Is there a law that allows you to override the CC&R if your family is in immediate danger and take action upon yourself to protect your house and family? I was literally scared for my kids’ life as well as one of those trees might fall and damage my house and force us to move out during the pandemic, which can easily expose my family to catch the coronavirus.

    Again, appreciate for your feedback and time to read this.
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I suggest you speak to several lawyers in your county about your legal concerns and any exposure to legal liabilities.

    An internet discussion site is woefully inadequate to assist you with complex legal issues.
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    No. The issue you describe is covered by your agreement with the HOA.

    While they may want to take action for your removal of trees, you MIGHT have a counter argument for their inaction of required maintenance. While the HOA may have been responsible for maintenance, that does not necessarily mean you were not allowed to maintain the trees yourself which were on your own property. A full review of your CC&R and any other HOA documentation is necessary.

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