Overhanging, fallen, or damaged trees and branches can cause issues of all kinds. From blocking roads, obscuring pathways and causing damage to property, trees can have a great impact on property and access.
However, when it comes to removal, it can get hotly contested as to who the tree belongs to, and therefore who is responsible for paying for its removal. We discuss the relevant laws, tree ownership, and responsibility rules for clearing.
Before you look at who the tree clearing responsibility falls to, it’s important to understand why the tree has fallen.
Trees can fall for a variety of reasons:
Regardless of whether you have commercial property, or you’re looking from a residential standpoint, the laws don’t change.
Common law duty of care dictates that responsibility lies with the person who owns the land to care for any trees on it, regardless of whether they planted them or not.
If you live in an area of conservation or have an older tree, then you will need to ensure any work complies with a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or conservation notices that apply in the area. These can be found at your local council, or a tree survey of your property will also disclose this.
Ultimately, the landowner where the tree falls has responsibility for it.
While it may not be their tree, the initial removal responsibility lies with the landowner under the Occupiers Liability Act, which states that you must make your property safe to all visitors and users.
This doesn’t mean they are liable to pay, however. In circumstances where a tree owner has neglected the care of the tree, they may be tasked to pay for the removal and repair.
In cases where the road passage is obscured, and there is damage to a road, the county council or highways authority will be the first port of call to remove the tree and repair any immediate damage.
Then, depending on who owned the tree, the council will either foot the bill and repair the damage themselves, or they may pass the bill to the landowner where the fallen tree was, to recover the costs.
If it is a private road and the tree, or branch from the tree, is one that is on public land, it will be the highway authority, or local council. Where a road joins with a private estate, such as an office park or university campus, and it is unclear as to who the landowner is, it is best to consult a surveyor as they will provide an impartial answer.
For instances like this, it is best to contact your local authority with images of the obstruction. They will then assess the damage and the priority of removal based on a number of factors, such as:
All these factors, plus risk to the public, are weighed up to determine the priority of its removal.
As the landowner, you are responsible for the initial removal. However, you may be able to recover some of the costs from your neighbour if the tree fall is due to neglect. Or, if you feel the fall was their responsibility, you may be able to recover more.
Whether you are a commercial landowner or a homeowner, it is important to make sure that you remove trees as safely as possible. Grounds Care Group is an expert in multiple kinds of tree surgery, including considerate tree removal.
Get in touch with us today to discuss tree removal needs.