Q: Our condominium association Board is getting bids to remove some palm trees on the border of the property, which happen to sit behind my unit, and they provide shade and privacy to my unit. It is my understanding that the Board can’t do this without my consent. Is this true?
G.R., Boynton Beach
A: Florida law provides that the Board has the responsibility to maintain, repair and replace the common elements. The trees outside of your condominium unit are ultimately common elements and fall under the Board’s authority. Florida law also does not guarantee a unit owner any specific view unless the covenants themselves provide for specific landscaping or views from the units.
There is a Florida Statute that requires the Board to obtain membership approval before materially altering the common elements. The statute requires at least 75% of the owners approve a material alteration, but most condominium documents include a specific and lower threshold.
It is important to note that the arbitration decisions discussing landscaping provide a significant amount of deference to the Board. Ironically, the state agency regulating these disputes will find that it is a material alteration to switch from blue pool cushions to shiny blue pool cushions, but will not get involved in significant landscaping decisions which alter the look of the entire community.
In other words, the Board has discretion to make landscaping decisions within its business judgment unless the change is very drastic. For example, switching from sod and native plants in favor of desert theme landscaping may be a material alteration, but removing a few trees for what, are presumably, bona fide reasons will generally fall within the Board’s discretion
Steven J. Adamczyk Esq., is a shareholder of the law firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. T o ask Mr. Adamczyk questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.