Tree damage from city owned property

10 Replies

Just settled on a property a few weeks ago and tenant moved in 2 days ago. Just yesterday I was telling my partner we need to call the city to have them trim tree branches that were hanging over our property risking tree damage and yard hazard.

Well this morning a very large branch fell over the property and crushed the fence, damaged siding, ripped out power lines, etc. I’ve read here that is cases of homeowner vs homeowner no one is liable which seems crazy to me. Is this also the case for a city owned vacant lot? The tree is grossly overgrown over the property line and I would think the city has a responsibility to maintain their property. Why would a tree not be considered their liability if they own it and the property it’s on?

Any idea if I will be able to get the city to move on this (when things are back running).

Being the owner of a tree service I hate to tell you that in almost every state, the property owner the tree is growing from is not responsible for damage. ie, wherever it lands, it's that person's problem.

If the branches were hanging over your property, you could have trimmed those branches back to the property line.

I agree with both John and mark.  Only saving piece would have been if you had reported the questionable branches to the city prior to the incident.  

@John Teachout this is what I was afraid of. It just seems so backwards to me. Specially if I am expected to trim branches over my property line. Why would I need to continually invite expenses to trim a tree that I have no ownership to? If I wanted I could just cut down the tree so I don’t have to worry about it but I am expected to maintain it?

@Mark Fries I have to pay for tree trimming service going forward for a tree that I do not own? I don’t have the option to cut it down completely, why would I be responsible in trimming it?

Igor, just call your insurance and tell them what happened.  Last time I did this it as an easy claim that didn’t effect my cost at all.

Didn’t impact mine at all but there’s probably insurance guys on here that can answer better.


have you bothered calling the city to see what they may do?  If they had on their spring schedule to trim trees and didn’t get to it they may be able to help.

You don't have to trim the tree that's hanging over your property. You have no obligation to do that. However, you MAY trim anything that's hanging over the property line. Whether the laws regarding tree responsibility are sensible or not, they are what they are. If you take it out a big farther, what about your tree's leaves that all land on the neighbor's lawn due to a strong breeze the day they were falling? Do you have to go over and rake his lawn? Or would you expect them to come over and rake their trees leaves off your lawn? Trees provide a mutual benefit to the community as a whole and tree tort laws reflect that.