The recent storms throughout Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac, and the Washington DC metro area forced us to fret about the hazards of falling trees among many other concerns that now haunt homeowners. My own experience was pretty scary when this huge tree fell in our front yard. This photo shows me in front of the immense root ball! Had it fallen in the other direction, it would have likely crashed through the roof of our bedroom where we were fast asleep. Fortunately, we were blessed that the winds took it in the other direction. Since the storm, I have received several questions from clients and through my website about the liability of fallen trees and who pays for the cleanup. Does the burden lie with the owner of the property where the tree originally stood or does it lie with the homeowner who had the tree fall within its property lines through no fault of their own? The answer may surprise you.
If you have large trees on or close to your property, you should read this Washington Post article written by a real estate attorney. You will discover that it is your responsibility to protect your own property. In fact, if a tree on another property falls onto your land or even into your home, it is most likely your burden to clean up and your insurance may or may not cover the damage. However, you probably have the right to trim overhanging branches from neighbors’ trees to protect your own property. Also where you live… whether in DC, MD, or VA could impact your cleanup efforts.