A Home Owner Removed a Dead Tree that Happened to be on HOA Property, Can He Ask to be Reimbursed?

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“I live in a lakefront community in the State of Georgia. Several years ago, the dam on our lake was declared unsafe. As a result, our neighborhood had to bear the expense of lowering the lake and rebuilding the dam. A $1500.00 fee was assessed to all lakefront homeowners and a $750.00 fee was assessed to non-lakefront owners to meet the cost of these expenses. As a result of this fee, the lakefront owners were given “property rights” to the water’s edge. (The HOA actually legally owns varying widths of property in each person’s back yard surrounding the lake.) Recently, we had an issue where a tree died in a homeowner’s back yard. The tree was actually on the property that the HOA owns. The homeowner cut the tree down due to the fact that it was a hazard to him and anyone in the lake in that area if the tree should have fallen. This homeowner has asked for reimbursement from the HOA for the cost of the removal of the tree due to the fact that the tree was on HOA property. Would the fact that lakefront owner’s have “property rights” to the water’s edge affect the legal responsibility of the HOA to pay for the removal of the tree? Thanks for considering this question!”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

I can’t really answer that question, because “property rights” is a pretty vague term in legal jargon. The answer would depend on the exact wording of the document(s) under which the rights were granted–and even then, a situation like this might not have been foreseen, and therefore the document could be uncertain on that point.

In theory, what your neighbor should do is consult with an attorney to analyze the documents, but the amount he is looking for may not warrant that expense.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.

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