As the dire weather continues over many parts of the UK, with high winds adding to the misery of flooded homes and businesses and the threat of snow on the way, property owners must ensure that trees on their land are made safe or they could be facing substantial compensation claims.
The law says that landowners must take all ‘reasonable’ steps to ensure the safety of people and property that might be affected by falling trees or branches but many are unaware of their obligations, especially if neighbouring properties are affected.
Although ‘acts of God’ are no-one’s fault, if a tree was evidently diseased, rotting or damaged and fell on a neighbouring property, or, worse, a neighbour, then the owner of the tree could be liable.
The law in England and Wales says that if the owner in question knew, or should have known, that there was a problem, they must take reasonable steps to remove the tree from their property or make it safe. Ideally, therefore, all trees should be checked on a regular basis by a professional.
If a tree does fall and damage a neighbour’s property, then they can claim for the damage but their insurers are likely to go after the tree’s owner’s insurers to be recompensed, so if the owner of the tree has receipts from a tree surgeon showing that they have had it checked, they are less likely to face a bill.
The same applies to roof damage, as if a property owner tries to claim on their insurance, the first thing the insurance company will do is to check that the roof was in generally good repair and may not pay out if there were problems, such as perished mortar, that could have made tiles slide off in even mild conditions.
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London
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