Austin

Woman says her home's being destroyed in the midst of HOA battle

AUSTIN (KXAN) - An Austin woman says the foundation is beginning to crack under her home after her HOA refused to let her remove an invasive tree in her yard. 

Penny Armstrong says when she bought her townhome at the Village at Pleasant Valley in southeast Austin, she noticed her fence was bowing because a tree between her patio and the fence was pushing it out.

"I thought, 'Oh gosh, first thing in order, I'm going to cut that tree down. It's on my property line, so it shouldn't be any problem,'" Armstrong said. 

But, she says, it did end up being a problem. Armstrong's HOA has the say in what happens to trees in the community, even though the Mimosa tree causing issues is on Armstrong's property.

Armstrong says she voiced her concerns repeatedly.

"Finally, they sent a guy over, and all he did was cut my fence," Armstrong said.

Since then, the homeowner says she's called on several professionals.

"Arborists, contractors, all come out and they all say the same," she said, "'This has got to go.'"

Armstrong says for years, she's been waiting for the day when her patio would start cracking, showing foundational damage.

"And sure enough, March the 1, I was sitting here, and I went, 'What is that? And it was a big crack,'" she said. 

Armstrong says the crack was about four feet long when she first found it. Now, a month and a half later, it's about 10 feet long, stretching all the way to her house.

She says she worries in addition to foundation damage, she could soon be facing plumbing issues. She's also concerned her property value will diminish. However, she feels she'll face heavy penalties if she tries to remove the tree. She tried to do so on her own once already and was told she couldn't.

 "They could put a lien on my place, they could fine me," she said.

Armstrong says the Village at Pleasant Valley HOA board originally told her it would take a vote to determine whether a professional could cut the tree down. She says she was never told whether or not that happened.

An attorney for the HOA told KXAN the community association had an arborist examine the tree a couple of years ago, and that arborist said the tree's roots didn't pose a threat to the home's foundation. Armstrong showed KXAN paperwork from three different arborists she's hired who said it does.


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