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Storm damage to trees, fences and property - who pays?

View profile for Michelle Hayter
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Much of Southern England has been battered by storm force winds and heavy rain and many people have consequently suffered storm damage to their property. When a tree is uprooted in a storm and damages your neighbour’s property it is unlikely you will be held liable unless your neighbour can prove that you have been negligent. This type of event is commonly known as an ‘Act of God’ in legal and insurance terms. However, negligence may be proven if your neighbour had made you aware of a safety hazard concerning your tree and you had done nothing to resolve it.

Another question that arises in these situations is who owns the tree in question. Ownership of a tree is determined by the placement of the trunk in relation to the boundary line. Generally speaking, whichever side of the boundary line the trunk rests on, that person is the legal owner. If the trunk rests on the boundary line both neighbours may have equal ownership and equal liability. If your neighbour’s tree falls on your house, your own house and property insurance should cover you, similarly if your tree is blown onto your neighbour’s property his home insurance should cover him.

The repair of a storm damaged common fence would be the responsibility of all the parties who share the common fence.

Dispute Resolution solicitor Michelle Hayter says,”If you have business premises affected by storm damage check your lease agreement to see who is responsible for the cost of repairs. Storm damage is a standard risk in most commercial building insurance policies and therefore would likely be covered by the insurance company. Building insurance is generally obtained by the Landlord and it is usually the Landlord who would make the claim.”

We have offices in the Christchurch, New Milton and the New Forest. Our Dispute Resolution team also cover Bournemouth and Poole. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Michelle or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.