If Ihave tree roots in my sewer pipes from city trees, is the city responsiblefor fixing the problem?

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If Ihave tree roots in my sewer pipes from city trees, is the city responsiblefor fixing the problem?

In our city the land between the sidewalk and the curb is considered city property, and there are 3 trees on that property. The roots have been getting into my pipes for the last 6 years and I have payed a plumber to clean them out. This is really causing me problems, now my finished basement has water damage and I don’t have the money to fix either problem. Can you help me?

Asked on February 25, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, tree roots in sewar lines are not the responsibility of the city, even if they are city trees. This is simply a known, predictable, and routine hazard of being hooked up to a sewar system, and is the responsibility of the property owner to deal with, such as by replacing the cracked pipe, which is allowing infiltration of roots, with a noncracked pipe that will keep them out. (At base, the problem is not the trees per se; it's that your pipe is old and/or damaged and has cracks that the roots can get in.) There is no legal course, except maybe in an exceptional case where you can show that city workers or contractors affirmatively did something that caused the damage to the pipe (e.g. while doing some utility work, cracked the pipe).


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