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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Virginia Law as to Responsibility for My Tree, Blown Down onto Neighbor's Property

    I own land in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Recent winds blew down a large tree on the corner of our property, and its trunk is now blocking a creek that flows across my land to my neighbor’s property. The neighbor wants me to remove the trunk, but our landscaper says Virginia law leaves me responsible for the roots of the tree on my land, but leaves my neighbor responsible for the trunk of the tree on his land. A Google search produced a News Release [[url]http://www.scc.virginia.gov/news/isabel_3.htm][/url], dated October 1, 2003, which says:

    “In most cases, if a tree falls on your property as a result of a hurricane or other natural disaster – even if it is not your tree – the cost of removing it is your responsibility.”

    Naturally, I need to know more before I can, in good faith (or good sense), tell my neighbor that I am just going to take care of the part of the tree on my side of the property line. I wonder whether that is a valid statement of Virginia law and, if so, its source. For example, is it a statutory provision or a principle derived from case law? I have conducted Internet searches of the Code of Virginia and the Virginia Administrative Code, as well as all Supreme Court and Court of Appeals opinions available on line, to no avail. I would appreciate any light that another member can shed on this for me.
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Twin Cities
    Did the tree destroy anything like other shrubs or trees? If the fallen tree caused damage to any other part of your property, your homeowners insurance may cover the removal of the tree - both ends of it. File a storm claim with your insurance company and if approved, offer splitting your deductible with the neighbor. Or better yet, pay the deductible yourself since it's your tree.

    Naturally, I need to know more before I can, in good faith
    If it were "good faith" you were concerned with, you'd remove YOUR tree from your neighbors yard regardless what the law says.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Missouri Ozarks
    Neighbor is responsible to remove tree from his land. Just cut the tree trunk at the property line.

    One of the issues is liability. If you go on his property to clean up the tree, which is legally his responsiblity, and are injured, your neighbor is potentially liable.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    If this was a living standing tree you are not liable for damages caused, but frankly, as a good neighbor, I'd have it removed.

    There are tons of "tree gypsy" contractors in our area of virginia that will take the tree for almost nothing if they get to keep the wood.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Policy Does Not Cover; Another Neighbor's Tree Fell Elsewhere on My Property

    Because no structures were damaged, my homeowners policy does not cover removal.

    Another neighbor's tree fell elsewhere on my property, causing a chain reaction that felled two of my trees and damaged five others. That will cost me $1500, while the removal of just the stump of the large tree will cost me $1200. There's good faith and then there's being the guarantor of everyone's tree losses; that's where the good sense kicks in. If the law allocates responsibility to the owner of the land where the tree lies, then that's what I need to know.

    I appreciate all of your advice, but I really need an authority for the principles of law you espouse.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Bay Area, CA
    A quick Google search turned up some caselaw from 2007 that appears to change the "common law" presumption that a tree that falls on your land is your problem. [url]http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/14/AR2007091401340.html[/url]. This may or may not have relevance to your issue -- you would need to look up and read the holding of the case discussed in this article. But this article at least raises the question that responsibility might not follow the usual common-law rules.

    It might also be worth talking to a local attorney, who could review all of the facts of your situation and advise you accordingly.

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