Who is responsible for the damage of a trampoline when a pine tree fell on it?

19 Replies

Hello all,

A pine tree branch broke off and fell on the tenant trampoline in the back yard.  The tree belongs to the house.  It damaged the trampoline and the tenant is asking me to pay for a replacement.   I offered to pay for 1/2 of it.  I thought I was being nice by offering to help her with it.  She said it was my tree that damaged her trampoline and that I need to replace it.  Is this my responsibility?   

Thanks in advance for your inputs!

I would think about what will happen when your tenant's kid's friend falls of the replacement trampoline and breaks her arm on your property.  

I would use this as an opportunity to say, "I have discussed this issue with my insurance agent and unfortunately we will not be able to allow you to have a trampoline in the future." 

Forget about replacing the trampoline, this is a big liability risk for you.  

I will not say anything in this case because the only thing equitable is to consult your attorney about it and your insurance company. I would not try to weasel out of it but learn what is the correct, legal and fair thing to do. 

If your lease requires that your tenant carry renters insurance, then it is her responsiibility.  If your lease doesn't require it, I don't know the answer other than to amend your lease for the future.

My lease states that my insurance does not cover the tenants belongings and if they would like to get renters insurance it is up to them. I walked them through the lease and made them initial certain important sections just to make sure they paid attention and this was one of them. I would check your lease, the one I use is a pretty standard one.

@Kayla Truong unless there is some unique law in your state, a tree limb or entire tree falling is considered an "act of God" and is no ones responsibility.

One of the only ways you could be found liable is if the tenant or some other 3rd party warned you about the unhealthy state of the tree, you neglected to act, and it them caused this damage.

Originally posted by @Kayla Truong :

Hello all,

A pine tree branch broke off and fell on the tenant trampoline in the back yard.  The tree belongs to the house.  It damaged the trampoline and the tenant is asking me to pay for a replacement.   I offered to pay for 1/2 of it.  I thought I was being nice by offering to help her with it.  She said it was my tree that damaged her trampoline and that I need to replace it.  Is this my responsibility?   

Thanks in advance for your inputs!

 Yes Mr. Landlord, it's on you if you allowed it in the yard. The tress is RE. Especially if it was a dead tree that should have been removed. Your insurance should cover the liability portion, but you can't ask the tenant to sue to get it. Have the tenant make the claim on your insurance. Or, just buy another one. 

Had you required a tenant's policy, theirs would cover it, then that company may file against your company, I doubt the cost would survive the insurance deductible.

Your RE damaged the tenant's personal property! 

Poor kid(s)  no more tampoline! LOL :)   

In my lease agreement, it is stated, "I, the landlord, will not be responsible for any damages to any personal property at the residence, xxxx, and it is recommended that the tenant get renter's insurance."  In this case, I may make an exception and pay 1/2 or for a new trampoline.  There is a possibility that the issue would not brought up because it has already been dealt with in the contract.  I would definitely check if any tree on my property had any dead part to it or remove the entire tree.

My insurance policy on my rentals doesn't allow trampolines.... You might want to check yours.

If the trampoline didn't come with the property then the responsibility falls on the tenant to replace. This is why she should be carrying renters insurance. I guess offer to help with the cost if you really want to keep the peace but like another poster pointed out, in most states a tree falling is considered an act of God and wouldn't be covered under your insurance unless the tree was rotten or neglected and was a hazard to the property in general. I would definitely make an addendum to future leases prohibiting trampolines. 

Did the tenant say anything to you about the tree needing attention before the branch fell? Did the tree appear to be needing attention or dying? Did the limb fall during a rai or wind storm? Unless you told the Tennant to put the trampoline under the branch, I don't think you would be liable. If you want to the tenant, you can share the cost with her. I want her to move, tell her to go pound sand.

Thank you all for your advice.  

The tree was dying that's why the branch fell off.  Tenant never said anything about the tree dying until it broke off and landed on the roof of the porch.  I had to send people out to cut it down and fix the roof.  It is a big trampoline with netting.   I wasn't aware that the trampoline existed until she told me about the damages.  She said that her son uses it for occupational therapy.  

I read over the our lease agreement and told her that our lease agreement stated tenant shall get renter insurance to cover personal belongings.  She hasn't pushed back yet.  I think she is ok now.

I never thought of not allowing trampoline.  I will draft up an addendum for her to sign.  But I am afraid she is going to use the medical excuse (occupational therapy).  What would you do then?  Ask for a doctor note?

I wouldn't ask for a doctor note. That would be a horrible thing on her part to lie about. The fact that the tree was in bad shape may put you on the hook for the repair. I think knowing more of the story makes me lean toward at least helping with some of the cost. Depends on how you want her to view you as a landlord and if you are willing to lose/replace a tenant. Good luck this one is a moral and ethical dilemma. I would still make an addendum to the lease stating that going forward you are in no way responsible for any damages to or resulting from tenants personal property.

No having read every post, forgive me if I'm repeating but I'm pretty sure liability works something like this: If you KNEW about a defect which then causes damage, you are liable, but ONLY if you didn't make efforts to rectify it in a suitable amount of time. So if a plumber tells you a pipe is weak and it might burst, and you say, "ok, schedule it" and the next day it burst, destroying a tenants stereo, I'd say you are NOT liable. If you instead say, "ok, I'll let it go for now then maybe call you when I have enough money to afford the repair" and then 3 months later it bursts, you MIGHT be liable. In your case, if your tenant had warned you 3 times that the branch in question looked precarious, he / she might have a case, but I (like one poster) am clear at lease signing that tenants must have renter's insurance, and that we are not responsible for damage EVEN IF THE DAMAGE is caused by a defect in our building or grounds, unless we are negligent. (negligence = knowing but not fixing...). 

If you try to make an insurance claim the insurance company will say fine but no trampolines. My insurance was canceled for this reason,  we had a trampoline we were selling it and they did an inspection and said no trampolines. They canceled the insurance and would not reinstate.   It does not matter if it is for occupational therapy , if your insurance doesn't allow they are out of luck.  Before your tenants goes and gets a new trampoline make sure your insurance company will cover you if it is on the property. If not tell her now.

My insurance clearly does not cover tenant property and would not cover us with a trampoline on the property. they also would not cover trampoline related injuries if they occur.

Why is there a trampoline at a rental property? Does your insurance carrier know this? If so, reimburse the tenant for the trampoline but don't allow another one, and you'll make your money back in a year or two on lower insurance. If your insurance doesn't know, that tree branch was the best thing that ever happened to you as a landlord. Pay anyway, and count yourself lucky no one got hurt. 

I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

Thank you everyone!  She will remove the trampoline.   I am so glad I posted the question here.  I never thought of the trampoline as being a liability.  I did call my insurance and they said they don't insure homes with trampoline.. Thanks again for your inputs!  

Awesome, sounds like this got resolved!

But I still have to comment, "occupational therapy"?  (rolling eyes).  No doctor in their right mind is going to recommend a child use a trampoline.  In fact, most pediatricians rale against them.

I couldn't find a more current statistic, but in 2006, over 85,000 children under the age of 15 were injured in trampoline accidents.

Our leases spell out: No swimming pools, no soaking tubs, no hot tubs, no trampolines, no fire pits....under any circumstance.

Originally posted by @Jennifer Tornus:

Awesome, sounds like this got resolved!

But I still have to comment, "occupational therapy"?  (rolling eyes).  No doctor in their right mind is going to recommend a child use a trampoline.  In fact, most pediatricians rale against them.

I couldn't find a more current statistic, but in 2006, over 85,000 children under the age of 15 were injured in trampoline accidents.


 

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