J.E. from Palm Beach County, Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We are having plumbing issues. Outside tree roots invading pipes and destroying driveway and walk way. Who is responsible for expenses to fix this problem?
Mister Condo replies:
J.E., it is hard to say exactly who might be responsible for the repairs to the driveway and walkway. In an HOA, individual unit owners are typically responsible for their own property, even if the tree causing the damage is owned by the association. In a condominium where the driveway and walkway are association-owned common or limited common elements, it would likely be the association’s responsibility to maintain both the trees and the common elements. In the HOA where I live in Florida, it is not uncommon for the homeowners to file a request to remove the tree (at homeowner expense) and replace the tree with a new one in a nearby location and then have the driveways and walkway repaired. Keep in mind that this solution only works as long as the tree roots from the new tree are not a problem. In another twenty years or so, the same problem is likely to occur. Alternatively, you can work with an arborist who can trim roots and alter their likely growth pattern by chemically encouraging the roots to grow away from driveways and walkways. Most Florida municipalities have strict codes about canopy trees required on properties so as to protect the ground and help minimize the need for irrigation. However, in HOAs where lot sizes are typically small, these requirements can be burdensome to the homeowner because they are required to have a large canopy tree in a location that is typically “too close” to impediments for healthy root growth. Driveways and walkways are the most common victims of these roots but pipes, sewer systems and even home foundations and lanais are also easily damaged by these roots. All the best!