Top of neighbour's tree blown into our garden

Top of neighbour's tree blown into our garden

Postby COGGY » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:02 pm

I would be grateful for any advice on a strange problem we have. Our neighbours (who have caused several problems/difficulties in the past) have a very tall silver birch tree, which they planted approx 10 years ago, very close to our fence and very close to their own Listed property. This tree has grown at an amazing rate since planted and was taller than their house. On 5 June this year we had a storm in the evening, when my husband looked out to see what he thought was a huge branch from said tree in our garden. He went out to investigate while I emailed the neighbour to inform him. As it was dark and raining fairly hard my husband attempted to lift the branch, which was far too heavy, although he is fairly strong. He had to break it up in order to return it over the fence to their garden. We have not had any reply from them but next morning we discovered that it was not a branch which had come into our garden, it was a huge part off the top of the tree. I call this strange as have never been aware of this happening previously. The tree may possibly be weakened as it often is blown by the wind into their house wall, but even so it is the actual tree trunk which broke.

On reflection we feel we should have taken a photo of the tree top before returning it. Easy to be wise after the event. My question is, should we take any further action regarding this to cover ourselves in the event of any further parts of the tree being blown over. Is it usual for the actual top of a tree to break off in this way?

Any advice would be gratefully received.
Coggy
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Re: Top of neighbour's tree blown into our garden

Postby despair » Tue Jun 20, 2017 4:59 am

IMHE
Silver Birches tend to rot out with any damage so you might be best to request your neighbours get the tree inspected so you have a comeback if more of it falls
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Re: Top of neighbour's tree blown into our garden

Postby COGGY » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:15 pm

Hi Despair
Thank you for the advice. The email I sent did say that he would be responsible for any further damage. Is this enough to cover us?
Regards Coggy
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Re: Top of neighbour's tree blown into our garden

Postby despair » Wed Jun 21, 2017 5:08 am

Arborlad knows better than me
But I would ask a friendly tree surgeon to look at the tree when he is passing

I think you really need to send a formal
Putting you on Notice letter
and be sure to keep a copy
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Re: Top of neighbour's tree blown into our garden

Postby jdfi » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:09 am

Theres a court case (kind of) about this. Stagecoach South west trains vs Hind & Steel

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/TCC/2014/1891.html
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Re: Top of neighbour's tree blown into our garden

Postby COGGY » Thu Jun 22, 2017 2:06 pm

Thank you both for advice. I have been reading through the case you referenced jdfi and learnt an enormous amount about trees. We used to have a silver birch in our back garden, which started to lift the pathway so we had it chopped. The one next door is a much prettier bark than ours was. Since the top blew off, (it was a large part of the main trunk that came down) the tree is day by day looking very sick and sorry. Many of the branches are hanging down, several have lost all leaves. We wonder if the hot weather has affected it as am sure it will not have been given any water. In the dark, with strong wind and rain, we could not appreciate the length of the main trunk that had come down. The tree is now a lot lot shorter than before. Thank you both for your help.

Kind regards
Coggy
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Re: Top of neighbour's tree blown into our garden

Postby TO » Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:52 pm

Trees fail in storms. Unless there was something obviously wrong that the tree owner knew about, or should have seen, that would have alerted them to the health/likely failure of the tree then it is just an Act of God. If on the other hand there was something that should have been obvious you may have a case in negligence for the damage caused.

Rather your insurers, who will pay for any repairs, will have a case in negligence should they choose to pursue the neighbour to recover their costs.

What can you do, well not a lot. A putting you on notice letter isn't the answer to life the universe and everything, and won't be worth the paper it's written on. You could ask an arboriculturist, not a tree surgeon, to provide a report on the tree and using that as evidence, should they find anything untoward, ask your neighbour to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. Trouble is your arboriculturist won't have access to the tree, so the contents of the report will be limited to start with, and your neighbour doesn't have to do anything to address the issues raised. You could ask the Council to exercise their powers under section 23 of the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976. However, their powers are discretionary and with ever dwindling resources I doubt you'll get any joy. Or, you could seek an injunction from the Courts requiring your neighbour to act to make the tree safe, expensive and robust evidence will be required.
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Re: Top of neighbour's tree blown into our garden

Postby COGGY » Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:52 pm

Thank you for your advice. The tree did not actually cause any damage as it landed in the middle of our front garden on grass. My husband looked out and saw what he originally thought to be a branch in our garden. It was much too heavy for him to lift so he had to break it up to throw back over the fence. It was late evening, dark, wet and windy, the only light provided by the street light outside. We were very surprised next morning when we saw it was the whole top of the tree that had broken off. The tree was taller than the next door house, is not now obviously. There is no point in us asking them to do anything as they will not. The only time they are likely to take action is if the roots come up under their lean-to which is a very old farm building with presumably not good foundations. The tree does not look good at present. The shape is peculiar, many of the branches on one side are drooping down and several have no leaves. The tree is very close to their house, so the branches on one side are constantly blown into the corner and side of their house by winds. The odd part is that by the direction the wind normally blows we would have expected the tree top to have landed in their garden rather than ours.

We will keep a copy of our email to them for safety.

Thank you for your advice. Regards Coggy
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