—Stuck in the Weeds
“There are several places the unit owner must look in order to determine the answer to this question. First, the unit owner should look to the minutes of the board meeting of May 2006, to determine the board acted with a proper vote to remove the bushes,” says Geoffrey Mazel, Esq. of the law firm of Hankin, Handwerker & Mazel, PLLC in New York. “The question states that ‘two board members’ decided to remove the bushes, the issue is how many board members are there? If there are only three, it would seem the board had a proper vote.
“Next issue, is to determine the nature of the land where the bushes existed. If the land is part of the common elements, the New York State Condominium Act and most likely the bylaws and declarations of the condominium will clearly state that the board has full authority to determine how the land is used, including landscaping. However, if the unit has a written alteration agreement with the board to plant the bushes, they may have a course of action.
“This is a small condominium, my best advice to the questioner is to run for the board and have the bushes replanted or meet with the board and plead your case. A lawsuit is not an option in this situation.
“Finally, the unit owner has no right to deduct any of his/her alleged damages from their monthly common charges. To do so may result in a condominium lien being placed on the property and may result in liability for the condominium’s legal fees and administrative fees.”