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Tree Law: Determining Tree Responsibility

November 12th, 2021

When a tree falls, significant damage can occur. Many responsible homeowners choose to have their trees evaluated for fall risk to try and avoid danger in the future. Even still, if your home is close to your neighbor’s property, you may still be at risk. What if your neighbor’s tree falls on your home? Will they be held responsible? These are the sort of questions our tree experts at TreeJob can help you understand. By knowing the basics of tree law, you will be better prepared when a storm hits.

The FAQs of Tree Law

If my neighbor’s tree falls on my home, are they held liable?

Their liability depends on whether they have been negligent. If they were aware that their tree was dangerous, dead, diseased, or otherwise a fall-risk, then yes. However, if a presumed healthy tree falls from your neighbor’s yard, they will not be held responsible. The best course of action is to document the situation and call your insurance company. The insurance company will likely send an adjuster to assess the extent of the damages before the insurance company will provide compensation.

Can I trim back my neighbor’s tree?

If your neighbor’s tree is hanging over your property line, you are permitted to trim only the portion that overhangs your property line and only if you can do so without harming the health of the tree. In most cases, talking to your neighbor first would be wise. Ideally, they may offer to handle the overhanging tree themselves to ensure it is trimmed in the way they prefer. If your neighbors are unwilling to trim it and you would like professional assistance, we can send our tree team to safely trim the branches back without causing harm to the tree.

Can I get my neighbors to have their trees assessed by an arborist if I believe they may have a dangerous tree?

There is not a law to force a homeowner to complete a tree assessment. However, if the tree you were worried about falls and causes damage, a tree expert could confirm the condition of that tree after the fact. If the tree ends up being dead or diseased, your neighbor will likely be deemed negligent. Being proactive about tree assessment is wise for the safety of all though. You could consider having your own trees assessed and letting your neighbors know about your choice to protect yourself and them. Possibly, your neighbors will choose to follow your example. If you have a positive relationship with your neighbors, a conversation about your concerns may be enough to encourage them to act. Paying for a tree assessment is far less expensive than dealing with storm damage.

If you are ready to be proactive about your trees, schedule an arborist visit from TreeJob. We can help you feel at ease about your trees before the next storm.

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