Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby richkaos » Tue Jun 03, 2014 8:28 am

Hello all

It looks pretty final but my neighbors insurers have just sent me a letter and a report from an arborist stating that in order to resolve my neighbors extension subsidence they have advised that all my trees should be removed and the stumps treated to prevent re growth, they all also say that I have to pay for this to be done and they have most helpfully included a rough quote of £985 +vat for the works to be carried out.
I called my insurers morethan and they say that their policy does not protect me against this. (still chasing them)
The letter also goes on to say that if the trees are not felled then i would be liable for any further damages to their property

Am i really in a situation where i don't have a leg to stand on?

Now i have read similar threads on this forum but none seem to be conclusive so was wondering that given they appear to have carried out several tests im stuffed so to speak. Even though neither my property or any other surrounding property or road or pathway seem to be suffering from the trees

Any thoughts or advice appreciated

Richard

Tech details
2 trees to be removed 1 x prunee about 4m tall and the same distance from their property 1 x eucalyptus about 15m tall and about 11m from property.
reason for subsidence..Trees taking all moisture and shrinking clay soil
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby Treeman » Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:18 am

richkaos wrote:Hello all

It looks pretty final but my neighbors insurers have just sent me a letter and a report from an arborist stating that in order to resolve my neighbors extension subsidence they have advised that all my trees should be removed and the stumps treated to prevent re growth, they all also say that I have to pay for this to be done and they have most helpfully included a rough quote of £985 +vat for the works to be carried out.
I called my insurers morethan and they say that their policy does not protect me against this. (still chasing them)
The letter also goes on to say that if the trees are not felled then i would be liable for any further damages to their property

Am i really in a situation where i don't have a leg to stand on?

Now i have read similar threads on this forum but none seem to be conclusive so was wondering that given they appear to have carried out several tests im stuffed so to speak. Even though neither my property or any other surrounding property or road or pathway seem to be suffering from the trees

Any thoughts or advice appreciated

Richard

Tech details
2 trees to be removed 1 x prunee about 4m tall and the same distance from their property 1 x eucalyptus about 15m tall and about 11m from property.
reason for subsidence..Trees taking all moisture and shrinking clay soil


Not really

A letter is just that and (knowing the subsidence industry) probably not worth the paper its written on.

You should respond asking them for a copy of the report (if not already in your possession) and copies of any investigation.

If they cant provide evidence implicating your vegetation any threats they made are moot

If they can prove that "your tree did it" you can always indicate your willingness to help but they will have to meet the costs of implementation by an agreed contractor.
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby richkaos » Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:43 am

thank you for your reply

I have since called them and asked for the report but from what they say they have carried out a bore hole examination as well as soil analysis, drain report, foundation detail, engineers report and monitoring and identified my roots are present at the foundations and the sole cause of the subsidence.

I have now called my insurers again as i didn't believe that i had no cover, they have now passed me to their liability department who have requested a copy of the letter and will look into it.

I will post back their findings

Thanks for advice
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby Treeman » Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:14 pm

richkaos wrote:thank you for your reply

I have since called them and asked for the report but from what they say they have carried out a bore hole examination as well as soil analysis, drain report, foundation detail, engineers report and monitoring and identified my roots are present at the foundations and the sole cause of the subsidence.

I have now called my insurers again as i didn't believe that i had no cover, they have now passed me to their liability department who have requested a copy of the letter and will look into it.

I will post back their findings

Thanks for advice



How grand all that sounds

Bore hole, usually to get the soil sample for analysis so the two are one and the same

That report along with the drains and foundations go to the engineers report and yet the letter cam from an arborist?

There are certain consultancy companies that specialise in subsidence, one of their tools is a letter that sounds mighty and grand and contains threats of dire consequences. When pushed fro empirical evidence they fall back on the phrase "juvenile roots to small to be identified".

Lets see what they come up with
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby APC » Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:45 pm

I also had one of those letters today 8)

Mature oaks with high amenity value implicated. Had a report from a subsidence specialist included which I flicked through this afternoon. Luckily this is relating to work rather than my own trees but I hope that an alternative solution to felling can be found (subject to proof that our trees are to blame).

Good luck!
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby jonahinoz » Wed Jun 04, 2014 4:44 pm

Hi,

Is this a case where the Council's Tree Officer might be on your side?

Friends had a tall tree (trunk about 4 to 5 ft dia at ground level) in their front garden, about 10ft in front of their living room window. Hefty branches kept falling off, trheatening to damage a neighbours caravan. The asked permission from the Council, to cut it down. Refused!

So they called in a tree surgeon, who reported that the tree was dead ... probably due to the developer chopping the routs, to make way for the house. Permission to cut it down was granted. I believe the original PP required the tree to remain.

On the day that it was felled, the council phone was red hot with neighbours reporting the vandalism.

The permission to fell included a clause to say that they must replace it with a similar type of tree, within their garden ... which cost them several hundred pounds. Both front and rear gardens were about 25ft square.

602
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby richkaos » Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:33 am

Thanks to all who have replied

I have now received the engineers report and i must say that things aren't quite correct in what they say, for starters the neighbors conifers are not mentioned and looks like they are staying, so she can keep her trees but mine have to come down????? OK so my trees are larger but vegetation is vegetation and they are right near the effected area.

My question is why is it only the extension that is suffering, surely if this was an issue my house and my other neighbors houses would all be effected by this alleged shrinking clay??

In the report though the cracking inside her extension is quite bad which makes me believe that its down to bad building or in sufficient footings, if that much damage had been caused by our local vegetation my house would certainly be suffering.

And an update on my insurance......................I'm not covered, be it liability or otherwise, they will offer no defense for my case, basically im on my own on this one, surely the whole reason we take out buildings insurance etc is to cover us for when un expected issues arise that may cost us a lot of money, at the moment its just a piece of paper that cost about £350..annually
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby Treeman » Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:55 am

richkaos wrote:Thanks to all who have replied

I have now received the engineers report and i must say that things aren't quite correct in what they say, for starters the neighbors conifers are not mentioned and looks like they are staying, so she can keep her trees but mine have to come down????? OK so my trees are larger but vegetation is vegetation and they are right near the effected area.

My question is why is it only the extension that is suffering, surely if this was an issue my house and my other neighbors houses would all be effected by this alleged shrinking clay??

In the report though the cracking inside her extension is quite bad which makes me believe that its down to bad building or in sufficient footings, if that much damage had been caused by our local vegetation my house would certainly be suffering.

And an update on my insurance......................I'm not covered, be it liability or otherwise, they will offer no defense for my case, basically im on my own on this one, surely the whole reason we take out buildings insurance etc is to cover us for when un expected issues arise that may cost us a lot of money, at the moment its just a piece of paper that cost about £350..annually


The answer to that is simple, the extension has a datum. The original house has finished settling and now the mass of the extension is settling and or responding to fluctuations in the soil level differently to the main structure. the main structure provides a datum that makes this obvious.

Many add on structured are built under PD rights and don't get the same scrutiny that a full planning application would.

Ask them if they have considered other measures to mitigate the alleged damage, the very mention of underpinning (expense) will rattle a few cages and focus their attention.

If you do have to remove the trees the cost of that is insignificant compared to underpinning and most insurers will fund the tree work rather than run the risk of having to fund the underpinning.

Another option is for you to sever the roots at the boundary and install a membrane.
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:41 pm

Hi Treeman,

Many add on structured are built under PD rights and don't get the same scrutiny that a full planning application would

are you saying the Building Control Officer just doesn't bother if it's PD?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby Treeman » Fri Jun 06, 2014 7:23 am

MacadamB53 wrote:Hi Treeman,

Many add on structured are built under PD rights and don't get the same scrutiny that a full planning application would

are you saying the Building Control Officer just doesn't bother if it's PD?

Kind regards, Mac



I say what I say, phrasing things like that is leading and putting YOUR words in the mouths of others so this isn't getting an answer.
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri Jun 06, 2014 7:59 am

Hi Treeman,

Many add on structured are built under PD rights and don't get the same scrutiny that a full planning application would

would you please elaborate on what you mean by the above - sorry for the phrasing in my last post.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby Treeman » Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:25 am

MacadamB53 wrote:Hi Treeman,

Many add on structured are built under PD rights and don't get the same scrutiny that a full planning application would

would you please elaborate on what you mean by the above - sorry for the phrasing in my last post.

Kind regards, Mac



The term is quite self explanatory and exploring it in detail will take this thread off topic.

Suffice to say that some of the PD rights structures I have investigated in relation to subsidence aren't fit for purpose (IMO). This scenario is a case in point (PD rights or not).

If the alleged damage is related to soil moisture, the structure wasn't designed or built with sufficient regard to the soil conditions.

If trees are present the planners can and should require a report (BS 5837 trees in relation to construction), if trees are present people like the designer and perhaps the builder have a duty of care to understand soil moisture relations.

There have been a couple of threads on here asking if the builder can force the tree owner to fell because "building regs" want deeper foundations because of the trees but they are few and far between.

When planners and building inspectors take no regard of trees particularly those on other properties its hardly surprising that problems follow.
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby arsie » Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:28 am

We had to make bigger foundations for part of our new build house due to close proximity with a mixed deciduous hedge, calculated based on the hazel in the hedge growing to half height. Building control had to be satisfied before allowing work to start. Us arguing that the hedge was kept trimmed cut no ice. Funnily enough - though not funny really - new neighbours then completely neglected to cut the hedge and the hazel quickly shot up 3m from an already high (3m) hedge.
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:58 am

Hi arsie,

Building control had to be satisfied before allowing work to start...

this is exactly the point I was trying to make - Building Control do care.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbours insurer wants to cut down ALL my trees

Postby arsie » Fri Jun 06, 2014 1:29 pm

Mac,
this was a new build: full planning and building control permissions and scrutiny. Treeman's experience was relating to add-ons some of which he found not well built, implying less than effective monitoring by building control.
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