Who’s Responsible for Removing a Fallen Tree?

Who’s responsible for removing a fallen tree? It’s a question many Massachusetts residents have. In this brief article, we’ll explore how ownership affects who is responsible for a fallen tree in the following situations:

  • Who is accountable when a neighbor’s tree falls on private property
  • Who is responsible when a tree falls on a rental property
  • Who is at fault when a government-owned tree falls on private property

Who’s Responsible for Removing Privately Owned Trees?

Tree ownership in Massachusetts is relatively straightforward; if the tree is on your property, it’s yours. However, that doesn’t mean you’re responsible for removal or any damage that occurs if a tree falls on your neighbor’s property.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court made this the law in the case of Ponte v. Silva in 1983. The ruling states that homeowners can’t be held responsible for fallen trees or damage when the tree in question is healthy. So simply put, if a neighbor’s otherwise healthy tree falls on your property, you and your insurance company are responsible for removing the tree and any resulting damage to your property.

However, if the tree was determined to be sick, decaying, or diseased, the owner of the tree could be liable. In these situations, it would still be up to the insurance companies to find fault and assign financial responsibility.

Are Renters Responsible for Removing a Fallen Tree?

The same 1983 Ponte v. Silva ruling applies in the case of rental properties. In these cases, tree removal is still the responsibility of whoever owns the affected property. Whether the tree fell from a rental property or onto a rental property, the renters aren’t liable. Each respective property’s owner (landlord) is responsible as is written in the law.

Who’s Responsible for Removing Publicly Owned Trees?

In the case of government-owned trees, whether municipal, county, state, or federal, the same laws apply as in the case of privately owned-trees. Regardless of tree ownership, the party affected by the fallen tree is responsible for removing the tree and recovering any potential damages through their insurance company. Again, if the tree was known or found to be diseased, damaged, or decaying, it’s a matter for the insurance companies to settle.

Do You Have a Tree You Need Removed?

Whether your tree already fell or you just want to be proactive, American Climbers can assess your trees’ health, and if removal is recommended, we’ll take care of it efficiently and safely with our state-of-the-art equipment. We even offer 24-hour emergency service when the unexpected happens. If you’re in the Hopkinton, Massachusetts, area, call us today at 508-497-8628.

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