Tree surgeons can charge several thousand pounds for removing a mature 100 foot tree from a garden – and if the tree falls add some more thousands to cover damage to buildings, cars, fences, sheds and greenhouses.
Lawyers warn that most property owners either don’t know or overlook that they have a legal responsibility to make sure trees are safe and do not damage a neighbour’s property or fall on passers-by.
If a tree has fallen and is judged to be rotten, diseased or dead, insurers are refusing claims and the property owners have to settle claims out of their own pockets.
Harjie Singh Bindra, of Midlands law firm MFG Solicitors confirmed he was dealing with many property owners facing expensive personal injury and compensation claims.
“The bad weather has brought down thousands of trees and branches,” said Bindra. “Many property owners are not aware of their legal position.
“The law is clear – the owner of the land where the tree stands is responsible for ensuring the safety of neighbours and passers-by that could be hurt or have their property damaged should the tree fall.
“If the owner 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.
“It’s a harsh fact and something causing considerable stress and financial worry at the moment for many people.”
The same rules apply to businesses, home owners and buy to let landlords with trees on their land.
Another tip for landlords is to check their boundaries.
The Insurance Blogger knows of one landlord in Birmingham who faced a £20,000 compensation claims when a huge tree fell on to sheds, fences and greenhouses across several gardens at the back of a buy to let home he owned.
The tree was behind a neighbour’s fence and the landlord assumed the neighbour owned the tree, only to find the cheeky neighbour had moved the fence to grab some extra land without the landlord knowing.