Who is responsible for tree trimming in a rental property? Is landlord responsible for fallen tree or is the tenant? Here are the answers to the most asked questions about tenant yard maintenance responsibilities.
Is Landlord Responsible for Fallen Tree?
A landlord’s maintenance duties are not only limited to the interiors of a rental property. However, most landlords — and even most tenants — forget about exterior maintenance. As such, the issue of landscaping, particularly tree trimming, might not be discussed before a tenant moves in, resulting in confusion as to who bears the legal responsibility for fallen tree damage.
So, who is responsible for cutting overhanging tree branches? It depends.
Consult the Lease Agreement
First, consult your lease agreement to see whether tree trimming falls under the responsibility of the landlord or the tenant. In most cases, tree trimming is not covered by the lease agreement.
However, some landlords may ask their tenants to sign a lawn care or landscaping addendum. If there are no provisions regarding tree trimming, the responsibility typically falls on the landlord.
Landlord Responsibility for Trees in a Rental Property
Tree trimming and removal are not considered as part of regular landscaping. However, it is still an essential component of preventive maintenance. It’s important to cut down overhanging tree branches because they may cause damage to the roof, windows, and other structures. They can also fall on power lines and cars, which can cause significant property damage as well.
Pruning dead or damaged branches keeps trees strong and healthy. Having healthy and well-maintained trees can enhance the aesthetics of a rental property. As such, landlords can reap additional benefits when they assume responsibility for tree maintenance.
Conversely, not assuming responsibility for tree trimming and removal can lead to potential issues. Several states require property owners to secure a work permit before removing a tree. Some areas also have restrictions on tree species, their height, and their diameter. Tenants are not usually privy to this kind of information. And so, if you have tenants cutting down trees without permission, it could lead to massive fines for the property owner.
Laws on Cutting Trees on Private Property
Not all states have laws on cutting trees on private property. As such, landlords should check with their state before undertaking tree trimming or removal on their rental property.
For example, Colorado and Illinois require a work permit before owners can remove trees on their private property. Meanwhile, California and Georgia have removal restrictions for specific tree species such as heritage trees (oaks) and hardwoods, respectively.
Trees on Public Property
There are also different regulations regarding trees that encroach upon public property, such as streets or sidewalks. In some areas, the city may remove overhanging branches even without permission from the owner. On the other hand, in other places, it is still the owner’s responsibility.
Trees on Private Property
What about trees that encroach upon a neighbor’s private property? It’s best to consult your state and local laws as well. However, there are two notable examples.
- California Law Overhanging Tree Branches
In California, if a tree straddles property lines, both owners are responsible for maintaining it. You can trim or cut down the tree even without notice or consent from your neighbor. If a tree is located on one property but has branches or roots that are invading a neighbor’s property, the neighbor can ask the owner to trim the tree. If the owner refuses, the neighbor can trim the tree—but only those that are encroaching upon their property. They must also trim the tree in a way that does not damage the tree.
- Florida Law Fallen Tree Responsibility
In Florida, the law acknowledges that overhanging branches or roots that encroach upon a neighbor’s property may serve as a nuisance. However, owners are not liable for such nuisance. The neighbor is free to trim the tree but at his or her own expense. If a dead tree, branch, or root falls on a neighbor’s property, the owner may be held responsible for any damage. If the tree that falls is alive or healthy, the tree owner cannot be held liable for any damage. This also applies to tree damage due to natural disasters.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fallen Trees
Here is additional information that establishes the landlord’s responsibility for tree trimming and maintenance.
Is Tenant Responsible for Landscaping?
Tenants may have landscaping responsibilities, depending on the provisions in their lease agreement or landscaping lease addendum. These duties may include watering, mowing, and weeding the lawn.
Are Tenants Responsible for Trimming Trees?
Tenants may perform general lawn care or landscaping. However, major tree maintenance, which includes trimming and removal, should be handled by the property owner or landlord.
Is Landlord Responsible for Tree Damage to Car?
If a natural disaster causes a tree to fall on a tenant’s car, your insurance claim is likely to be denied — unless “Acts of God” are included in your policy. However, if you have proof that there was neglect on the side of the landlord, you may be able to file a claim with your insurance provider.
For example, if the tree was damaged or diseased but the landlord did not address the issue, they could be held liable when the tree falls during a natural disaster. These cases are usually evaluated on a case-by-case basis so tenants should coordinate with their landlord and insurance providers.
A Definitive Answer to Is Landlord Responsible for Fallen Tree
Is landlord responsible for fallen trees? By now, the answer is clear. Landlords should remember to include tree maintenance in their list of duties as this reduces potential liabilities. Meanwhile, tenants should always work together with their landlords to ensure that the rental property is well-maintained both inside and out.
If you are a landlord who needs help with tree trimming and other maintenance tasks, consider the advantages of having a property manager. You can check out Rental Choice’s online directory to find the best property management companies in your area.
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