If a tree falls...
Just this morning we were sitting at breakfast and I looked out the back patio door. After getting past the initial shock of there still being two feet of snow on the back porch, I scanned the yard, surveying the "wreckage" after the ice and wind (and snow) of the past five months.
"Sweetie," I asked, "If that huge tree falls over, are we responsible for it?"
"Which huge tree?" He asked, recalling last fall when our neighbour's tree came crashing across our fence, taking out my lilac bush, much to my disgust.
"The big one at the back. If it falls THAT way it will take out half the plaza behind us. If it falls THIS way we are totally fine." Well, other than my apple tree I suppose.
And at that very moment, real estate lawyer and instructor Mark Weisleder's e-newsletter popped into my inbox, with the following article included. While I won't attempt to summarize the full contents, the general gist is as follows:
1. Check your homeowner's insurance policy carefully. If the damage is great enough (i.e. worth paying the deductible) your insurance may cover it, even if the damage was caused by the tree of a neighbour.
2. Check your trees carefully and keep them maintained. If your trees show no outward signs of decay, including rough/damaged bark, dead branches, scarring or deterioration; and you trim and prune accordingly, you are doing your part to ensure your trees are not hazardous to you or your neighbour.
3. You are allowed to have trees growing as they are "natural use of the land" and your neighbours need to protect themselves accordingly. If I park an RV under the boughs of a neighbouring tree which looks sketchy, I am going to go ask my neighbour if they are looking after that tree. If they are aware and have knowledge of a questionable tree as a potential threat, THAT is when the issue of liability may come into play. Keep in mind, of course, that you still need to be a good neighbour. Get advice from an arborist BEFORE you knock next door.
The article also covers the oh-so-sensitive issue of "Am I allowed to cut down my neighbour's tree if it is wrecking my view / blocking my sun / dropping branches all over / in the way of my new fence...?" (Ok it doesn't cover ALL of these, but most. I was pretty stunned when my neighbour took out a couple of mine during backyard renos last year.)
Here's the link to the article. It's WELL worth the read.
Thanks for reading, enjoy the sunshine!
Michelle Dunn, Realtor
Century 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd.
Independently Owned and Operated
Direct: 905.464.3056 | Office: 905.845.9180