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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    2

    Question Liability for Damage Caused by Tree Roots

    We used to live in California where we had a big Cottonwood tree in the back yard. It was about 5-6 ft. from the back fence where our lot bordered another persons back yard. A few years ago the people behind us put in an in-ground swimming pool that also came about 6-8 ft. from this same fence.
    The person that lives there came over one summer day while we were packing to go on vacation and said that the tree was dying and losing its leaves and they are making a mess in the pool. I told her that it was not dying and that type of tree is the first to lose its leaves each year and all the other cottonwoods around town are doing the same thing. Also we were going on vacation and I would see her after we got back. After vacation I didnt go over there and never her from her anymore. This past summer we sold the house and moved to another state. The Realtor said this neighbor has talked to the new owners and the tree is raising the concrete by the pool and that they want something done. The new owners didnt know anything about this and want us to do something. Are we responsible for having the tree removed and any repairs, even though the tree was there LONG BEFORE the pool???

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,637

    Default Re: BigTree

    This tree is large and quite visible, and I am assuming that any reasonable person would understand that it has a large system of roots. And no complaint was made to you prior to the sale? I am skeptical that they could claim that this was an undisclosed or unobvious potential problem.

    Here's an article which suggests that a California tree owner is liable for damages tree roots cause to a neighboring property:
    A tree which encroaches into the property of another is a legal nuisance. No negligence is required, only that there is an encroachment from the property of one owner (the tree) into the property of another. Damage caused by the nuisance is the responsibility of the party whose property created the nuisance.

    * * *

    As to damage caused by tree roots or tree branches, the law is quite clear. The owner of the tree is responsible. The owner of the property may remove the encroaching roots or branches, but must do so in a manner not to harm the tree. If one does harm the neighbor’s tree, one may be responsible for the old tort of waste. Again, cooperation is the key, and nothing major should be done without an arborist consultation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: BigTree

    So it doesnt matter that the tree was there before they put in a pool??
    We would still be responsible if the roots caused damage??

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,637

    Default Re: BigTree

    That's the type of analysis where I would have to defer to a California real estate lawyer.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Liability for Damage Caused by Tree Roots

    Not an attorney but your real question is whether you are liable becasue you did not disclose the problem. Since it is something you had no knowledge of, there is no way you coould have disclosed it. The problem is now that of the new owners.

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