Have you been in a situation when the roots of a tree that belongs to your neighbor’s property are causing damage to your property, and you don’t know who will be responsible for compensating for it? Most Americans have been through this situation and have disputes with their neighbors regarding the solution. It is extremely frustrating to see the neighboring tree roots damaging your pipes and property in any way and expanding to your yard, and you don’t know what to do next.
In this blog post, we have discussed who is liable for tree root damage if the tree belongs to your neighbor’s yard. While you get into the matter, it is important to understand how to deal with the neighbor’s tree, which is expanding into your yard.
Tree Damage Liability
As a tree owner, you should understand the liabilities and responsibilities of tree damage and how to cover the damage through homeowner’s policies. If a tree falls on your home, the expenses are likely to cover under the homeowner’s policy with a small deductible to be paid upfront. The policy will cover the damaged areas, including the garage, the home front, and the damaged sides of the building.
Similarly, if your tree accidently falls on your neighbor’s property, the expenses will be covered under his homeowner policies. However, the insurer will pay the liability under the ‘Liability’ term if the homeowner’s policies do not provide enough coverage.
Who is Liable for Tree Root Damage Caused by The Neighbor’s Tree?
If tree roots are not properly maintained, these can damage the neighboring trees and their properties. If the neighboring tree roots are invading your property and causing damage to the foundation, you must be careful before taking any legal action. The guide below informs you about managing the damage caused by the neighbor’s tree roots.
Analyze the Situation
First and foremost, it is important to understand what type of damage is caused due to tree roots that are expanded into your yard. The expanded tree roots not only damage the yard but may also damage the driveways, foundations, and pipes and cracking on the walls and floors.
Analyzing the Extent of the Damage
Determining the extent of damage caused by the tree root expansion is crucial. You may take the help of professionals to analyze your property and the areas at which the damage is done. There are likely signs of ground settling or cracking in case of damage that is caused due to tree roots.
Determining Who Is Liable to Pay
Once the damage extent is measured, it is time to determine who will fix it. In most of the states, the homeowner whose tree has done the damage is responsible for paying for it. However, the local laws are different regarding every state, and in some cases, the neighbor who has experienced the damage is responsible for paying for it.
If the neighbor’s trees encroach on your yard, you don’t have to contact your neighbor aggressively. Rather talk to him politely about the damage and come to negotiations so both parties can fix the issue together. Can I throw the neighbor’s tree back in their yard? While it may seem tempting, throwing branches or debris back into your neighbor’s yard without their permission is usually not a good idea. If the tree is poorly maintained or has damaged roots, obviously, it is the fault of the tree owner; however, you need to suggest to him politely what he should do before the damaged roots expand. A better approach is to have a conversation with your neighbor first and try to find an amicable solution.
When Negotiation Doesn’t Work
You are not blessed with a communicative and empathic neighbor, which is why both parties cannot negotiate at a certain point. If the negotiations don’t work, you may take a legal action against your neighbor whose tree is causing damage, based on the local laws.
Avoid Damage in Future
If you are lucky enough to resolve the matter co-operatively or legally, this is when you should take intellectual steps to avoid damage in the future. You never know when the tree roots will enter your property again, so you need to ensure some preventive measures, such as installing root barriers. You may also ask for professional help to thoroughly inspect your property to see if the root’s expansion does any damage.
Things to Do to Prevent Tree Roots From Spreading
We have seen most tree owners complaining about the tree roots spreading and expanding under the house or encroaching on their neighbor’s land. There is a huge possibility of roots expansion around a tree that is older or located near a tree-dense area. The roots in this case, cause severe damage and may even affect the foundation of a property. Moreover, expanding the roots to your neighboring land can be extremely frustrating for them.
To prevent such a situation, it is important to take certain preventive measures to ensure less damage and to keep your tree healthy for longer.
- If the roots are damaging your plumbing lines, you may take professional help to cut the roots which are causing obstruction. You may also use a root barrier to align the roots and ensure their growth in harmony.
- The best thing to do if the roots start expanding is to cut them. The professional arborist excavates the trench and trim the roots which are causing damage. If the damage is of a serious extent, you may have to go through the entire tree removal process. Before planting in your yard, it is important to avoid certain tree species which grow higher and have more invasive roots. Also, while choosing the tree species, ensure that it grows according to your location and does not require a massive land habitat to grow.
- If the tree roots are causing cracks in the foundation, it is best to cut the roots and pave the damaged floor surface to prevent the damage from further expansion. This is a time-consuming and expensive method, but it saves your property from long-lasting surface damage.
- If uncontrolled water sources are near a tree, its roots will grow in the direction of the leaked water pipes. This is the reason why tree roots are expanded towards the water and sewer lines. To control the situation and to prevent the damage, it is important to control the water sources and cut the roots which grow inside the plumbing lines.
- If the tree itself is problematic, its roots will keep on expanding in the wrong direction even after the trimming. In this case, the only solution is to cut the entire tree with professional help, as its existence will only threaten the other trees’ safety and property.
As a responsible neighbor, it is your duty to assess the issue intellectually and determine whose responsibility it is to pay for the damage. You cannot enter your neighbor’s property and trim his tree’s roots without his permission, as it may land you in further legal trouble. Even in case of root pruning, you are not allowed to reach your neighbor’s land unless you have sought permission. Ensure that you are not damaging the tree and only trimming its roots, damaging your yard. In case of killing a tree or damaging it anyway, you may be legally charged of a penalty amount.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How is the damage controlled that is caused by a tree that is poorly maintained?
If a poorly maintained tree falls due to improper care, damaged rot, or some other visible cause, you will cover the damage caused by its fall. You will be liable to pay for the expenses caused due to tree fall in this case.
Can I cut the damage roots of a tree that belongs to my property?
If the tree whose roots are damaged belongs to your property, it is your responsibility to cut it down before the damage reaches to your neighbor’s property. The tree owner is responsible for looking after his tree and all the rights and regulations associated with its trimming and falling.
Can I sue my neighbour for tree damage?
If the damage is done by the tree that belongs to your neighbor’s yard, he may be liable to pay for the damage. However, the local laws regarding it are different in every state so you should always take help of an attorney before knowing the liability status of a fallen tree.
What is a root barrier?
A metal or plastic root barrier stops the roots from growing in a certain direction. Since installing a root barrier is quite complicated, you should always seek a professional help to carry out the process.
How will I find out fi three roots are damaging my property?
If tree roots damage your property, you may feel ground settling or slanting towards one side, cracks in the foundation, and frequent blockage in the septic system.
Which trees have more invasive roots and should be avoided to plant in the yard?
Certain trees have deeply invasive roots and should not be planted in the backyard such as Eucalyptus, white poplar, weeping willows, gum tree, Ficus, and ever green figs.
John Davis is a passionate content writer with a knack for crafting engaging narratives across various subjects. With a keen eye for detail and a love for storytelling, John brings ideas to life through the power of words. His dedication to delivering high-quality and informative content has made him a trusted voice in the digital realm. When he’s not at his desk, you’ll find John exploring new hobbies and seeking inspiration in the world around him.