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who is liable?

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lkc15507

Member
What is the name of your state? Missouri
if a limb blows out of a tree that is over the driveway of a rental home during a storm and damages the renters vehicle, who is responsible for the damage? The landlord or the tenant?
 


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rapunzel41

Guest
you need to state more information about the tree -- it is on the property in which you are renting? it the tree on your neighbor's property?
may be your car insurance agent can give you an idea how to go about this matter.
 

lkc15507

Member
first of all, i am the owner, not the renter.

the tree is on the rental property. it is a live mature tree, not dead, although previously damaged by storms as is every other tree on the property. storms and limb damage are common to the area. the limb blew out of the tree in a storm, which i see as an Act of God. i understand the vehicle was parked in the drive at the time. the drive will accomodate the length of three vehicles with only the center being under the tree. there is also a gravel / grass area on the street in front of the house for parking with no trees in the area. Given the very nature of limbs being able to break and fall in wind, I asked the tenant not to park under the tree in inclement weather--this was prior to their moving in. they obviously did not heed my advice. i told them i believed it to be an Act of God and told them to submit to their vehicle insurance which they did. all was paid except the deductible which they in turn held out of the rent. the one car garage is used as storage, not as a garage. i feel the same about the tree limb as if the vehicle sustained hail damage--park the car in a safe place. but, what i think and what is the legal fact may be two different things. any further insight is appreciated.
 
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deweydecimal

Guest
You could argue that YOU are liable since YOU knew the tree was damaged and YOU still allowed them to park under it....instead of fencing it off.

Verbal agreements mean squat, this time it works against you.
 

lkc15507

Member
Dewey

Does a limb having blown out of the tree before mean that the integrity of the tree is ruined? If that is the case then i would suspect that many trees in the world need immediate eradication. Previous damage to the tree did not result in any subsequent damage to the tree. I could not prevent the tree limb blowing out, it was a live mature tree with no reason to believe a limb would be more likely to fall from it than any other tree. Had the tree been dead or not sound, perhaps it would have been negligent to leave it standing, but that was not the case. I did not say there was a verbal agreement. Simply that I pointed out what should be common sense--tree limbs call fall in a storm. I'm the landlord, not a babysitter--should i fence off a perfectly useable area of the drive blocking any access to it because someone is stupid enough to park under a tree in a storm? I lived in that house 8 years myself. I always parked in a safe place (plenty of places) and never had a limb damage my vehicles. Apparently their automobile insurer did not question as they paid for the repair except for the deductible, and insurance companies are notorious for looking for someone else's pocket. Lastly they have just appointed themselves judge by holding the amount out of rent.
 
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jlw1000

Guest
Here's how I look at it: Insurance companies hate to pay out money, & love to make others responsible. If the tenant's car insurance company did not think you were liable, then you are not.

I would give them proper notice that the rent is not paid in full, & if not paid eviction proceedings will commence.
 

lkc15507

Member
jlw1000

You are a person after my own heart! Not just because you said what I want to hear, but also because you see what I believe to be factual. Their auto insurance paid without attempt to subrogate the claim. The deductible is their responsibility under the agreement with their policy. If they feel I am liable, 1) they could / should attempt to validate their position and talk to me, and / or 2) seek proper channels to recoup their loss--not only the deductible, but the amount paid by insurance--that is also a loss to them if I were liable for the damage. Withholding rent forces me into the position of being a bitch and / or going to more trouble than the deductible is worth. I simply worry about being nickle and dimed to death every time they think they are unhappy. I hate to evict over an even remotely ambiguous situation. That is why I am seeking advice / opinions from more experienced people. Thanks. lkc15507
 

lkc15507

Member
Well darn it, I know I am being long winded, but I want to say thanks to responders. My origingal queary did not include details because I am looking for either a hard and fast rule about this type of situation and / or the the arguements that can be made for either side. I am a reasonable and moral person, my word is law, I expect others to be, even though in a court of law it may not mean squat. I'm from the "show me" state. Show me I'm wrong and I will be decent. All responses past and future greatly appreciated. Thanks, lkc15507
 
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deweydecimal

Guest
you know i had to ask that question so you would get mad and really answer the question.

The tenant has no right to withold part of the rent,since it wasnt part of the apartment.


but say if they were paying extra each month for the parking space then you would be liable. Since they would be paying you to maintain a higher standard in regard to the condition of the tree.

Same with a garage if you advertise the house or aparment comes with garage then it is being paid for out of the rent money and you or your homeowners insurance would be liable, but if the tenat is pleasantly surprised their is a garage and you let them use it, then its their responsibility to make sure it safe to park in it.
Paying money implies responsibility, you want the extra money then YOU have to take the responsibilty for its up keep. thats very fair
 
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lkc15507

Member
dewey

ok, they are not paying for parking. this is a small, rural community, not a metro area. I understand and have lived in an area that requires payment specifically for parking. this is not the situation. (the midwest is large!)
my renters have more than adequate parking, I have been extremely decent to them in the rental period (another whole story). Parking here )midwest) is just is not an issue, unless it is under a tree in "tornado ally". Again, storms are common. My renters are natives of the area, this is no surprise-tree limbs fall in storms.
 
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jlw1000

Guest
I know this may not seem like a big deal, but I have found that if the tenants think you are a push over it becomes a big deal. The more reasonable you try to be, the more unreasonable they become. They will find more things they believe you are "responsible" for, and may end up withholding rent altogether.

Just a thought: Have you looked into an umbrella liability policy. A million dollar policy is usually less then $250 a year. In a situation like this, the tenant can just haggle with your insurance company. In the meantime, they can not withhold rent money because they are dealing with the insurance company (& it is all a separate issue). You do not have to be the "bitch", the insurance company will handle the issue.

This liability policy will come in handy, because we are in a "sue happy" country. I remember reading that as a group landlords are sued more often then any other group of business people. This liability policy can protect you in the event you are sued.
 

lkc15507

Member
dewey, jlw1000

Had a couple of down days on the computer, but just wanted to say thanks so much for the advice. Dewey, you gave me many aspects to start taking into account and anticipating. jlw, the umbrella policy is a fabulous idea! For what a premium costs, I would pay for what my renters deducted from July rent! Thanks so Much. lkc15507
 

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