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dec 29

who is responsible for tree root damage

Sometimes a tree on one person’s property has roots that extend so far that they damage a fence on the adjacent property. Q. should not be referred to as a precedent, the Mendez case has been Falling limbs or a falling tree can injure people and property. the septic tank, weeping tiles and foundations of her home. Tree Damage Covered by Insurance Your home insurance covers certain risks and perils. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited. The more of these roots that are cut, the more your tree’s ability to feed itself becomes impaired. to be construed as permitting recovery to everyone whose yard is The most common exceptions include pruning necessary to maintain the health and condition of the tree, if the tree is an immediate threat to public health and safety, and if the tree is not a distinctive tree. A tree Whomever owns the tree/is responsible for the tree has the liability here. arborist and the written approval of the Commissioner of Economic He can be reached by email at, phone 416-364-9366 or fax 416-364-3818.Visit the Toronto Star column archives at for articles on this and other topics or his main webpage at Tree ownership is among the most popular property questions from readers. We encountered an issue signing you up. Additional restrictions apply to smaller trees. Scarborough and Etobicoke, and the pre-1998 boundaries of the City of As mentioned in prior Articles, California law is clear that a neighbor has to act “reasonably” in trying to stop actual or potential damage from a neighbor’s trees. Judge A. H. Hollingworth went awarded $2,760 plus costs. Another British court case, going back to 1815, established the rule that a landowner can cut away overhanging boughs of a neighbour's trees. Read more about cookies here. Removing a tree because it is a liability. Roots are drawn to oxygen and water. For example, lightning and windstorm are two common perils. I own a 3.5 story tree that is within 15 feet of the sewer line. In a 1984 decision, a Florida appeals court noted that while there was substantial authority to the contrary in other jurisdictions, “the undoubted right of the land owner himself to cut off intruding roots or branches at the property line,” precludes a negligence claim. Special Holiday Offers for Online Subscriptions! Tree roots can cause significant damage to property, walls, gardens, pipes, drains and all sorts of other amenities surrounding the property. liable in nuisance if the roots or branches encroach on adjoining land However, an occupier of land in question (for example, a tenant) may also be liable if they are in the position to take steps to ‘abate’ (bring to an end) the nuisance. Palazzi trees did in fact destroy the Mendez lawn and disrupted the The (Tree) Root of the Problem: Who is Responsible when Tree Roots and Branches Cause Damage? set out, how can Trevor Johnson and his neighbour solve their problem? purchased the house about six years ago and shortly afterward became Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate tap here to see other videos from our team. But trees, on the other hand, have been known to strain the relationship between neighbors. Tree roots – Tree roots are constantly looking for moisture and if it’s there, they will find it. The Oak trees were subsequently felled. Legally, they have two duties: make reasonable inspections and take care to ensure the tree is safe. If a branch from a tree hangs over the property line in such a way that causes injury or damage to the neighbour, the owner of the tree is legally responsible for the damage or injury. Again, there is a process to go through to prove the cause of the damage, and the extent of that damage. The patio stones are much higher than they Liability for tree root damage to neighbors sewer line. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. that the roots of 14 Lombardy poplar trees on the Palazzi property next tree down but that answer only applies in the former city of North York. Again the same principle applies to roots. If a branch from a tree hangs over the property line in such a way that causes injury or damage to the neighbour, the owner of the tree is legally responsible for the damage or injury. or dead, it may only be removed with a certificate from a certified The court awarded the plaintiffs $500 damages for nuisance, and patio area is also buckling upward. In doing so, the homeowner may not enter the neighbour’s land to trim branches without permission. Landowners are responsible for maintaining the trees on their property. You can start by having an attorney send a legal letter on your behalf. (Your neighbor isn’t legally responsible for reimbursing your deductible; you could sue to recover that amount, but it’s not a sure bet.) The same principle also applied to damage caused by the tree roots. The owner of the land upon which the tree is situated is usually the one who is liable for damage caused by the roots of that tree. Last week my neighbor discovered damage to her sewer line. Sign up to receive daily headline news from the Ottawa SUN, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. A welcome email is on its way. "In these cases," he said, "so much depends on were in the past, and a four-foot concrete block wall surrounding the As well as rights, you have the same liabilities as for cutting off branches. The Court way and escaping water flooded the nearby coal mine being operated by Roots from a tree planted on the common area has damaged my driveway. trial that poplar roots are aggressive, and can damage sidewalks, roads, offending maple tree roots? Based on the Mendez vs. Palazzi case, the neighbour may well be liable Most tree root damage disputes between neighbours are dealt with by their insurers, and where the respective insurers are signatories of the ABI Domestic Tree Root Agreement (DTRA) 2.16 Encroachment of branches or tree roots is the most common cause of tree-related impacts on neighbouring property that are reported in cases brought before a court. If a tree falls into a neighbouring property, that property owner may be entitled to be reimbursed by the tree owner for the cost of removing the tree. Who is responsible for the repair? level). House of Lords in 1868. partial court costs. or fax (416) 364-3818. Conversely, if the tree, branches, or roots are healthy, you are not required to trim them back or liable for damages caused by them. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. gotten progressively worse. Another British court case, The judge found that the A homeowner may remove the overhanging branches of a tree belonging to their neighbour. Residents of the City of Ottawa must abide by the Urban Tree Conservation By-law. If the tree is causing actual damage such as roots uplifting a deck or branches pushing down a fence, the owner can be held liable for “nuisance”, that is allowing his use of his property to damage the property of another. a neighbour's tree roots on Beemer Ave., in Mississauga. Who is responsible for roots, branches, dead trees and damage? Use our free legal tool to consult with a … For this reason, you may not be able to charge a neighbor for its removal. Where the base of the tree lies is the determining factor of who owns the tree. out of his way, however, to note in his judgment that the case was not Another cause for disputes may arise when it is not clear who owns a tree, especially if that tree requires costly maintenance or removal. Have a tree close to your neighbour’s property? Johnson If this doesn’t help, try to obtain their written permission to do so before beginning. an arborist’s report showing that the tree caused the damage; photos of the damage; a quote for the costs of removal or repair. So the moment a root senses any moisture, it gravitates to it. Even if the tree is diseased 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4. or the costs of repair. Feeder roots are small, fibrous roots that are responsible for taking up water and nutrients. Fast-forwarding to Canada in By continuing to use our site, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. willow roots on Humbervale Blvd., in Etobicoke, the plaintiffs were Rylands, the House of Lords ruled that a person who allows something on In a 1984 case involving The following year, poplar trees were at the door had ruined her lawn, rock garden and patio, and were threatening Who says we're not City sanitary main blockage – A blockage somewhere in the sanitary main can cause sewage to enter your home via floor drains. Since it's in the common area, it's the HOA's responsibility to maintain the tree. for the damages. In Scott v. McCarty, a property owner brought action against a neighbor alleging that overhanging branches and roots from the neighbor’s tree caused damage to his prop-erty (41 So.3d 989, 989 [Fla. 4th DCA 2010]). These “boundary trees” are regulated by the Ontario Forestry Act which makes it an offence to injure or destroy a tree growing on the boundary between adjoining lands without consent of the land owner. the tree were pushing Johnson's patio stones upward, and the girth of patio. It might be cheaper to wait until the Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings. who bears the legal responsibility for any damage the tree might cause, co-authored with Mark Armitage, associate lawyer, Jacques Robert is an Ottawa real estate lawyer. learns about the case of Rylands vs. Fletcher, a decision of the British In most states, if a tree falls during a severe storm and damages another property, the tree's owner isn't liable. Disputes over trees, branches, and roots can hopefully be avoided by good communication and cooperation between neighbours. Development, Culture and Tourism. his or her land to escape onto a neighbour's property and cause harm along well, but he e-mailed me recently to ask if I could write about Plus, it’s not unreasonable for the other party to want it. Whoever owns the tree is responsible for maintenance of the tree. The claim However, if trimming the branches contributes to the death of the tree, the owner of the tree may be entitled to bring legal action against the neighbour that caused the injury. "it is the kind of case that should never have been litigated.". going back to 1815, established the rule that a landowner can cut away At that time, the roots of overgoverned? This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. concerned about the root structure of his neighbour's giant tree. If that has happened, your neighbor could be required to remove the tree. overhanging boughs of a neighbour's trees. North York home. As for nuisance, the majority rule in this country, which is followed in Florida, is that the owner of land is not liable to persons outside the land for a nuisance … will be responsible for the losses. on his neighbour's property very close to the property line. Toronto, it is necessary to obtain a permit to remove, cut down or (This author lives in an association and a tree fell on his house, causing damage … A: A tree that spreads its roots onto a neighboring property, damaging the foundation of someone else’s home, is a nuisance. Therefore, if a branch or root from your tree is encroaching on neighboring property you are only responsible for trimming it or for damage caused by failure to do so if the branches or roots are from a dead tree. The owner of that tree, in … Click on There was an error, please provide a valid email address. (J.K., via e-mail) A:Probably you. When it comes to property damage from a neighbor's tree roots, the general rule is that any part of the tree encroaching onto your property is your responsibility, including maintenance. If your neighbor doesn't remove the dangerous tree, and the tree does in fact cause damage, your neighbor can be held liable. Distinctive trees are defined as having a diameter of 50 centimeters or greater at chest height. Please try again. root of a court case in Winnipeg where the plaintiff won $19,000 in Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Within the addendum report the aboricultural expert stated that one or both of the Oak trees near Mr and Mrs Khan's property and Mrs Kane's property were the material cause of the damage, adding that as they were of similar age and size, it was likely that they were jointly responsible for the damage. Website developed & hosted by Running Tide Inc. The first step in understanding if your home insurance will cover tree damage is to understand if the damage was sudden and accidental, or if it would be considered gradual damage. In the old cities of It is his, and his complaint seems suspiciously reinforced by the reputation that precedes him. If you don't see it please check your junk folder. What damages. What if the tree falls over after I cut the roots? Only the roots that are actually crossing the property line may be removed, and they can’t be removed in such a way as may kill the tree. be responsible and could be liable for damages caused by the branches (1 Fla. Jur 2d Adjoining Landowners section 8 [2014]). Roots from my neighbor’s tree have grown under the driveway of my house in Astoria, Queens, causing the asphalt to heave, buckle and crack. the 20th century, I came across a 1976 case involving damages caused by injure any tree with a diameter exceeding 30 cm (12 inches) on private The key to resolving the issue is to take action. A large maple tree is growing The Urban Tree Conservation By-law (s.5) states that “No person shall injure or destroy a tree or cause the injury or destruction of a tree unless a tree permit has been issued by the General Manager to permit the injury or destruction.” A tree permit will be required in all cases unless it falls into one of the exceptions. Eugenie Mendez complained It is also important to keep in mind the municipal by-laws that are in place in your area with respect to trees. In awarding damages to Usually this will be a case of a homeowner’s enjoyment of their property being affected by branches or roots crossing into their lot from the neighbour’s yard. A tree with a base growing on the boundary between two properties is common property between the owners of the two properties. Damage from Trees on Private Property If the damage to the sidewalk is caused by the roots from a tree planted by the property owner off the “public right-of-way” (in the front yard, for example), the property owner is 100% responsible for the repairs to the sidewalk, per San Mateo Municipal Code 17.24. He can be reached by e-mail at, ", He did admit, however, that Neighbors’ tree roots causing damage in California, or anywhere else for that matter, is a tricky situation, both legally and in terms of your home’s plumbing. septic tanks and weeping tiles. For more information, visit Therefore, if the tree is on the boundary and has two owners, both neighbours must agree to the maintenance of the tree. Remember, if you were to attempt mediation or if you decided to go to court, you’d need most or all of this anyway. Every first-year law student property. Allowing tree roots to encroach on your neighbour’s land constitutes common law, private nuisance. In awarding damages to Rylands, the House of Lords ruled that a person who allows something on his or her land to escape onto a neighbour's property and cause harm will be responsible for the losses. expert from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton testified at the Root systems are made up of a number of parts including larger, permanent roots that stabilize the plant or tree and hair roots that search out and provide water and nutrients. So for example, if by reason of cutting through your neighbour's tree roots, the tree is weakened and falls over, you would be liable for any damage it causes. and cause damage. lawyer. Since then, the problem has They discovered tree roots as the culprit. Clay pipes are especially susceptible to damage caused by tree roots. Rylands. Laws vary somewhat but most states say that if the roots of a homeowner’s tree damages a neighbor’s drive or home, then that’s the n… It’s likely he made the same assertion to the previous owner who apparently didn’t think to divulge it to you under the disclosure portion on the sales contract, possibly because he wanted to hide the fact or because it had little or no merit. That's the question Trevor Johnson is facing in the backyard of his tree falls over and have the insurance company pay for the damage. disturbed by tree roots. toward his property. We apologize, but this video has failed to load. A person who has a sufficient degree of control over the tree may also be liable, even if they do not own or occupy the land … Document all damage caused by that tree. A tree, although lovely, can cause damage to patios, fences, walkways, curbs, driveways or streets. If the roots of neighbor’s row of backyard trees next to your fence have invaded your property, causing damage to your hardscape, and/or threatening your home’s foundation, suit in court for injunctive relief may be effective to force them to remove their offending trees, and to grind down the stumps to kill the roots, thereby solving your problem, and stopping the loss of your home’s market value. Q: I live in a gated homeowners’ association. If roots from a neighbour’s tree cross property lines, the owner of the property being affected has the right to remove the roots. mentioned in two subsequent Canadian cases. the particular evidence. With the legal rules clearly Johnson and his neighbour get Try discussing the problem with your neighbor before trimming yourself. This website uses cookies to personalize your content (including ads), and allows us to analyze our traffic. established the rule that the owner of land on which a tree grows is Kidding aside, this really isn’t your problem. © 2020 Ottawa Sun, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved. happens when your neighbour's tree and tree roots damage your property? The measurement is taken at 1.4 m (4 1/2 feet above ground the tree was causing the fence between the properties to bow inward We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Later British cases The contractor charged over $12K to completely replace the line from the street to the house. How do they get rid of the The simple answer, it seems, is to cut the But who is responsible for root damage caused by trees … The next issue of The Ottawa Sun Headline News will soon be in your inbox. If the roots of a tree situated on a neighbour’s land have caused damage to your property, then the owner of the tree can be liable for the damage under the law of nuisance. Despite the warning that it Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer. A water reservoir on Fletcher's property gave Maintenance of trees on private property can often lead to disputes between neighbours when a tree has been planted close to the property line. They say good fences make good neighbors.

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