people's Lawyer


Dead tree threatens property

Question There is a dead tree in my neighbor's yard that looks like it is going to fall o n our house. We asked the neighbor to cut it down, and he said he would if we pa id half the costs. We can't afford to pay anything and told him so. He then said that because we refused to pay our share, he had no liability if the tree fell on our home. Is this right? We really cannot afford to pay.
Answer Under the law, your neighbor would be liable for damage caused by the tree falli ng, if it fell as a result of his negligence. Based on what you say, the tree ne eds to be removed, and it would be negligent to not remove it. I know of no lega l doctrine, however, that requires you to pay any of the costs of removal. In my opinion, "your share" is nothing. This is your neighbor's property, and it is h is responsibility to take care of the problem. Although neighbors may agree to d ivide the costs of removing a tree, this is to encourage good will, not because of any legal obligation. My suggestion is to let him know that you expect he wil l take reasonable steps to protect your house and have the tree removed or prune d. Make it clear that you are unable to assist him financially, and that you do not believe your inability to pay in any way affects his liability if he refuses to cut the tree.