Sep 15, 2017
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If A Tree Falls On Your Neighbor’s House… Who’s Responsible?

It starts out with gray skies. Slowly, the rain begins to fall. Before you know it, water pours from the sky, flooding the streets, filling every crevice with several inches of water.

With a soggy ground in place, the landscaping begins to change. Settles. And that old tree suddenly takes a fall.

Of course, it doesn’t fall with grace. It crashes to the ground and leaves destruction in its path. It falls away from your property and onto your neighbor’s. Unfortunately, it’s not just the landscaping that is damaged. It lands on the roof, branches through the windows, leaving a lot of destruction in its path.

You rush out, making sure everyone is okay. And while personal safety is always at the top of the list, with that checked off the list, the next question can give you days – weeks – of turmoil.

Who’s responsible?

Damage of this nature will be covered by a standard homeowner’s policy. But the question from there is who pays? Which homeowner’s policy will cover the loss?

If A Tree Falls On Your Neighbor’s House… Who’s Responsible?

Your Property, Your Tree

When a tree on your property falls on your house, the rules are fairly cut and dry. Your homeowner’s policy will provide coverage for any damages up to your policy limits, after you pay your deductible. This extends to all basic structures that exist on your property, including your main home, garage, carport, sheds or other buildings, and structures such as fences. If there is structural damage to your property, debris removal will also be included, up to policy limits.

However, if your tree falls onto your property without any structural damage, your homeowner’s policy will not cover debris removal. You will be responsible for complete tree removal of branches and debris.

Your Tree, Your Neighbor’s Property

Of course, trees rarely fall where you want them to go. And large trees can often damage many things at one time. Depending on how it falls, it may land on your neighbor’s home instead of your own. And in the same manner, it can damage many things, including the main home, garage, or surrounding structures such as sheds or fences.

As a general rule, homeowner’s insurance almost always covers the policyholder’s property. In other words, if your tree falls on your neighbor’s property, your neighbor’s homeowner’s insurance will cover the damage to your neighbor’s home.

Your Neighbor’s Tree, Your Property

Reverse the situation, where a tree from your neighbor’s property falls into your home. The same rules apply. In most cases, the homeowner’s policy of the damaged property is the one that will cover the costs of damages, after the deductible is met.

What if you knew it was going to fall?

In some cases, an old tree can be the instigator of many arguments. It’s old. It has damaged limbs. It may have lost large branches in the past. You knew there was a possibility of it coming down at an inopportune time. If you think a neighbor’s tree has the potential of damage, can you force your neighbor to pay when the inevitable happens?

In most cases, the answer is no. A person can’t be forced to remove a tree just because you disagree on its condition. If you have concerns about your safety, you can easily approach the subject with your neighbor. But in the end, it is up to them to decide the right course of action. Only they can choose to remove a tree from their Portland home.

This can be a great lesson for everyone. It’s the first rule in avoiding confrontations with your neighbors.

When in doubt, work with a tree removal company to assess the damage. And if a tree is dying or dead, with little chance of recovery, it may be time to remove it once and for all.

Take care of the problem before it occurs. You know that old tree you’re worried about? Why not remove it before it becomes a bigger issue? Tree removal can be an easy process when it’s accomplished on your time schedule. When you have the process performed in the best of conditions. Before it becomes a bigger problem for you or your friends next door.

Like people, trees have a life expectancy and need a healthy environment and good nutrition to grow. It can die from a disease. And it can die from old age. When a tree has been around for years, decades even, it’s easy to assume it’s getting what it needs on its own. In reality, trees need just as much care as the flowers you’ve planted in your garden or the grass in your front lawn.

Droughts impact them. Free-flowing water impacts them. Extreme weather conditions influence them.

Think you have a tree that is sick or dying? If a tree has changed drastically in a short period of time, or looks different over the course of the past year, it’s probably a good idea to have an arborist look at it. A tree inspection can search for signs of impending death that are easy for a homeowner to miss. Trees can still be beautiful while being structurally unsound.

Is it time to call a tree specialist? Have you noticed:

  • Leaves bloom late in the spring
  • Leaves fall off early in the fall
  • The leaf color isn’t normal
  • Bark is splitting or cracking
  • Dead branches are clustered in one area

All can be warning signs of a growing problem.

The best place to start is by having it inspected. Then make an informed decision on the best course of action. We’re here to help. Give us a call today.

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Home Maintenance

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