Woman says HOA 'blowing off' potential damage

Posted at 8:08 AM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-26 11:08:56-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A Tierrasanta woman said a vicious root system could be damaging her home from underneath right now, but she claims her homeowners association is blowing off her concerns.

Penny Sansevieri spends hours each day working in the comforts of her own home, but her cozy office space gives way to worry every time she steps onto her patio. She walks out to find a crack in the cement, which came from roots belonging to a large tree in her front yard.

She noticed it in December and called the Villa Portofino HOA. A crew removed the Liquidambar tree and one other in her front yard, but Sansevieri said the man who did it gave her a warning.

"He said, 'Lady, you've got a root burrowing under your house,'" she said.

That could lead to potential damage to her foundation, and then much bigger problems. The worker removed the trees in January, but Sansevieri said she's still trying to get a response from the HOA when it comes to fixing her patio and inspecting her foundation.

She said she pays the association $150 a month.

"I think you feel a little unsafe, and you feel a little bit like you pay these dues for an association that just blows you off," she said.

Association President Chuck Dayton didn't want to get into specifics, but he said owners can file an internal dispute resolution with the board. He said the association mails information on the process annually to owners.

Sansevieri said she's never heard of that.

The California Department of Real Estate says residents should look at their HOA's governing documents for best ways to resolve issues.

Mark Goldman, a real estate lecturer at San Diego State University, said many times the complex is responsible for foundations. It would be spelled out in the bylaws. He said, either way, the problem could get worse.

"Deferring remedy for the roots can end up cost much more as the damage is amplified," Goldman said.

Sansevieri said she plans to go to a future board meeting and ask them to do their job -- that way, she says she can do hers with a clear mind.