Vienna, VA asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia

Q: My home is in Fairfax County, VA. Fee simple, with an HOA. I need advice regarding a section of common area.

A 30ft strip of common area is behind my home. The HOA declined to replace a tree there that died, but suggested I do so. So I submitted a request to plant 5-7 arborvitae, and agreed to maintain them the 1st year. The board approved 5, which I had planted. I immediately submitted another request for the additional 2. I said I would assume no response meant approval. After 3-4 weeks, having no objection either to the trees or to my making the assumption, I assumed approval and had the 2 trees planted. The board took exception to this and chose to move those 2 trees to a different location in the community. I was so upset by this, I did not realize the original 5 were not receiving sufficient water and 3 of them died. The board now refuses to allow me to replace the trees that died even though they are under warranty by the grower. They will not tell me why. I have now paid $11,000 for trees I no longer have. Please help - this is distressing me to no end, and I don't know what to do.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: The only choice I can think of is retaining counsel to review the facts, review the HOA rules, and decide whether to threaten if you are on good grounds or cajole if you aren't. Sounds like you pissed them off pretty well. Maybe retaining someone to speak for you who can sound like he carries a big stick will work. HOAs are chronically underfunded and don't want legal fights.

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