An owner planted some trees in his garden many years ago and now the trees have outgrown the area in which they have been planted and they are causing structural damage and blocking gutters with their leaves. Who is responsible for the trees?

In order to answer the question, we will have to look at the status of the garden area where the trees are situated.  If it is on the common property the Body Corporate is responsible for maintaining the trees – even if they were planted by one of the owners, they became part of the common property.

To quote from the STSM Act:

Section 3. (1) A body corporate must perform the functions entrusted to it by or under this Act or the rules, and such functions include—

(l) to maintain all the common property and to keep it in a state of good and serviceable repair;

If the area is an EUA then we need to look at the type of EUA that was created.

If it is EUA ito the plans then the BC is responsible for maintenance of the trees and must raise an EUA contribution on the owner of the rights to the area to cover the maintenance costs.

If it is EUA ito the rules then we need to check if the rules make the owner responsible for maintenance of the area.  If not then it is the BC’s responsibility and a EUA contribution must be raised to cover the costs.

If the owner is responsible for maintenance and now pleads poverty – or the favorite – “I did not plant the trees, I bought it that way” then the BC can refer the matter to CSOS after trying to explain to the owner that it is his/her responsibility.

Removal of trees altogether is a contentious issue – some owners could object to this – the suggestion would be that an information meeting is held with concerned owners to explain the valid reasons for wanting to remove the trees.