What can I do if my neighbor’s dead tree has fallen onto my property and badly damaged my fence to the point that it might break but my neighbor hasn’t done anything about it?

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What can I do if my neighbor’s dead tree has fallen onto my property and badly damaged my fence to the point that it might break but my neighbor hasn’t done anything about it?

He’s been saying he’d fix it for the past few months “when he has some time” but he hasn’t and each time I ask him he grows increasingly confrontational. What are my options, who can I call, and how much can I benefit from this?

Asked on January 3, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If your neighbor knew or had reason to know that the tree was dead and/or leaning on your fence--as he evidently did, if 1) you told him about the risk, as you state you did; and 2) if it was visually obvious--and despite knowing of that, has refused to take action and thereby caused damage to your property, he is liable for any costs you incur. The failure to act to remediate known risk or ongoing damage makes one liable. You can have the tree removed from leaning on your fence and the fence repaired; your neighbor should then pay the costs you thereby incur; and if he doesn't, you could sue him for the money.


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