Strictly, legally speaking, it's completely your problem since you
knew it was dead and didn't tell your neighbor of your fears. You now
can tell the neighbor you are having a crew enter their property for
the purpose of fixing the safety hazard (i.e. cutting the tree so it
no longer poses the hazard) and that they will fix any damage to the
property caused by their work.
To be neighborly, you should have the crew remove the entire tree and
not just enough to make it safe.
Had you done something upon discovery of the dead tree, the neighborly
thing to do would have to have offered to pay half the cost to remove
the hazard, and, if refused, to have paid the total cost.
This can be a complex issue. Keep your children out of the yard
during storms or a windy day. Keep and date a few pictures of the
tree and let the neighbor know it is a hazard. Wait for his reaction,
perhaps a week or two, then contact a city official who knows about
these situations. You should NOT have to pay to remove a neighbor's
It didn't sound like it was yet a "dispute". A "dangerous tree" is a
code violation in my city and the city can remove the hazard if the
owner does not. Funny how folks can post a question about a significant
matter and then "disappear" and don't answer follow-up questions. It is
conceivable that the tree is now situated such that the OP would be
responsible for removal, and not the owner of the property from whence
the tree came....we may never know. It would be interesting to hear how
it is resolved.
I spoke with an insurance adjuster tonight that is licensed in every
state, Canada and most countries in Europe. So I trust their opinion,
which is strictly from an insurance standpoint.
First question: Did you ever discuss the dead tree with the neighbor?
Or him with you? (Was he aware that it might be dangerous?)
If yes: Call your insurance company. They will remove the tree and
collect from the neighbor or his insurance. There may be a limit to
how much they will pay to dispose of the debris.
If no: Is the fence yours? (Yes means it is covered by your insurance)
If yes: Is the dead tree touching the fence? If yes: Your insurance
will pay to remove the tree to prevent addtional damage to insured
property. No coverage for your tree unless you have a landscaping
If the fence is the nieghbor's and the tree is touching it, his
insurance will pay to remove it.
If the neighbor was not made aware of the danger and the tree is not
toughing the fence then God intended for you to have that tree, dead
or not. It is your responsibility to remove it.
But, God may not be finished with the tree. A late, windy night the
tree could fall farther and contact the fence. Then, whoever owns the
fence needs to call their insurance company.
You first asked about this 3 weeks ago. People giving opinions
suggested a variety of options, with most of them suggesting you
simply go talk to the neighbor first. And if that didn't work, then
to check with the municipality code enforcement official, who may
treat it as a public safety issue.
Since the tree is obviously dead and a danger, I think the neighbor
would likely be responsible for damage if it occurs to other property
owners when and if it finally falls. That situation is different
from a tree with no obvious problems that falls, in which case the
person who's property if falls from is generally not responsible.
However, you aren't going to get a for sure answer here, as we don't
even know where you live, let alone what the local laws may be. If
you want a real legal opinion, talk to a local attorney. The attorney
aside from giving an opinion, will most likely want to write a
letter. And be aware that who may be responsible and actually
establishing that and collecting are two different things. Since you
now say a second property is in danger too, why haven't you and that
owner just gone over and discussed it instead of engaging it open
ended "what if" speculation?
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