Tree on fence caused damage. Who pays?

5 Replies

The neighbor's tree next to my rental property  fell on the fence separating our properties.  The fence  is damaged.  First, how do I know who owns that fence?  Secondly, does the neighbor have to pay to clear the tree remains on my side of yard and any damage if I own the fence?

A shared fence is owned by both parties if that fence sits on the property line. If one causes damage or is responsible for the damage caused to the neighbors' property, it would be expected that the person causing the damage would pay for it. 

I'd talk to someone who is knowledgeable in real estate law in your area to get the specific laws regarding shared fences and property damage.

It doesn’t matter whose tree it is, period....when a tree falls whoever owns the property damaged by it is responsible to fix their own property, and for the clean up of the portion of the tree on their property.

Exception: if the tree was obviously damaged/diseased and the other party gave them written notice of it in advance.

There is no such thing as a shared fence. Someone paid to have it installed just inside the property line, and that fence belongs to them. If a tree or branch falls on someone's property, the owner of the property where the tree is holds responsibility for cleaning up the debris, and repairing any damage caused by the tree or branch.

I can't speak for Chicago specifically and not a lawyer but in most juristrictions, the fence IS placed on the propety line and there IS joint responsibility for it. If there is no fence and one owner wants one, the courst will even order shared cost or if an old fence becomes a hazard (e.g. leaning and ready to fall), boths sides pay for repair / replacement. Hopefully it doesn't come to that but in the extream. 

The issue that usually comes up is where exactly is the property line and if they two parties can't agree, a survayor is brought in. Having said that, a lot of people don't want to go to court or bother with a survayor so do put the fence 'just' on their side and pay the full costs. In effect they are giving up some of their land that in eventually (40 years?) becomes part of the other property.

I do agree that a tree falling the owner of the tree is fully responsible for all cleanup / repairs. Assuming they have insurance, it should cover this (less the deductable).

Oren