A: We can understand your frustration. Have you talked to the board to find out why it is taking down the trees? Are the trees infected with something you can’t see? Are they harboring pests of some sort? Is the board planning on replacing the pine trees with other trees or is its 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 and choose landscaping for common areas, and they can 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 may make poor decisions.
In your case, the association probably has the right to take down the pine trees behind the unit, and it can decide whether to put something new up 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 you like. 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, we can’t tell if anything was done inappropriately by the association that would give you legal recourse. 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.
Ilyce Glink is the author of “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask" (4th Edition). She is also the CEO of Best Money Moves, an app that employers provide to employees to measure and dial down financial stress. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact them through her website, bestmoneymoves.com.
Read more in Real Estate: