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What are the Responsbilities of a Homeowner When It Comes to Tree Care?

Whether you are a new homeowner or you have lived in the same home for fifty years, many people have questions when it comes to tree care responsibilities. Do you have a right to trim the trees of your neighbor if they are hanging over your property? If a tree has fallen in a neighbor’s yard, do they have to take care of it? Who handles the bills if there is an infestation?

These are questions that we don’t really ask ourselves until we need the answers immediately – which leads to confusion and sometimes people acting in ways that do not foster a positive relationship between neighbors.

So just what are homeowner responsibilities when it comes to tree ownership? Here are the most basic responsibilities:

4. You Have To Take Care Of Your Trees

  • You are responsible for all health-care related items
  • You may be at fault if the tree falls
  • Keep tree’s health up to date

We often tell you that inspecting your trees is so important and that you need to know when something looks off – why? If something does go wrong and a tree falls, you may be liable for it. If the tree’s branch was diseased and falls on your neighbor’s car, you could still be at fault.

According to The Washington Post, this is a murky part of the law but can be key in many cases. If you knew that your tree was unhealthy or diseased OR if you should have known that the tree was unhealthy and dangerous, you are liable for any and all damages. Even if your neighbor’s children were climbing your tree and something happened, you are still liable.

The best way to avoid problems is to take monthly walks around your yard to investigate your trees. If you see something that just doesn’t look right, make sure that you reach out to a professional to handle it properly.

3. You Have to Contact Your Insurance If A Tree Falls On Your Property

  • Contact your insurance as soon as possible
  • Make sure you take photos and do not move anything
  • Do not allow your  neighbors to intervene

If a tree falls on your property and the stump is on your neighbor’s property, you need to contact your home insurance company. This might seem backward, but it is the process you need to do, though your neighbor may want to call his or her insurance company to alert them of the situation as well.

According to ErieSense, “If a tree falls on your house, make sure to take some photos. Then call your claims adjuster, who will evaluate the damage and explain how your homeowners coverage comes into play. It’s recommended that you call your claims adjuster before you contract to have the tree removed.”

Often enough, if nothing has been damaged, you should be able to work out tree care and any clean up quite easily. However, if you do not have a good relationship with your neighbors or they aren’t home at the time it falls, things can get complicated quite quickly.

2. You Need To Make Sure Your Tree Isn’t a Nuisance

  • Roots and branches can be nuisances
  • Trim and keep them neat by yourself for the best results
  • Neighbors can do cutting once something crosses the property line

As a homeowner, you have a responsibility to your trees and your neighbors to ensure that your tree isn’t becoming a nuisance. This means that you make sure that any roots or branches that grow over the property line aren’t ruining sights, hardscaping, structures, or other greenery. If they are, you should handle everything quickly and properly, if only to ensure that everything gets handled correctly. If you do not, your neighbor may take into his or her own hands.

According to the Educational Community for Homeowners in California, you do want to look up local laws before you do any cutting of your own. However, it is just common sense and common courtesy to ensure that your own trees aren’t ruining all of the work that someone else put into their yards.

1. You Are Responsible For Quality Work

  • Ensure you work with professionals
  • They can help to ensure work is completed properly
  • Can catch other problems

One thing many people do not know is that they are responsible for the help that they bring onto their property. If you hire a tree care company that isn’t high quality or isn’t insured, any issues that arise can be your problem.

Even worse, however, is trying to take your tree’s health and care into your own hands. Anything that happens because of your actions can be your fault and you are liable.

According to George Johnson Insurance, “If the tree fell on the neighbor’s home when the homeowner was trying to cut down the tree without professional help, the damage would be the homeowner’s responsibility. Also, if the tree was dying, unstable or diseased and the homeowner knew about it, he or she could be liable if it falls over on its own. He or she could also be liable if it falls over during a very light storm that would not normally knock over a tree. When homeowners know they have dying, diseased or unstable trees, it is their responsibility to take steps to prevent them from causing severe damage.”

If your tree falls onto someone else’s property while you are cutting it down, this can cost you thousands of dollars in damages AND can result in a home insurance rate that skyrockets.

If you are looking for a tree care professional in Redwood City, give Econo Tree Service a call today at (650) 200-2495. We will help you to better understand your trees and how to handle any watering, planting, pruning, or other tree issues that you may find – of course, we can also help you with other issues as well. We will provide you with the best possible tree service.

Header image thanks to Teemu008 on Flickr!
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