The legislature’s judiciary committee will hear testimony Monday on two bills regarding a property owner’s responsibility for maintaining trees.
Senate Bill 987 would require property owners to visually inspect their property and remove any tree limbs that appear “unhealthy or…potentially dangerous.” The measure would also stipulate that a landowner has knowledge of a tree’s defects if that owner receives a certified letter outlining the tree’s condition.
A separate proposal, House Bill 6487, would make private property owners liable for removing a limb or a tree if it falls on a neighbor’s property. The provision, which would exempt certain nonprofit landowners, would apply if an arborist had inspected the tree and documented that it was diseased or likely to fall, or if the adjoining property owner had requested that the tree be removed or pruned and the landowner refused to do so.
Falling trees were a big problem in several of the devastating storms that have struck the state over the past 18 months, including Tropical Storm Irene, the October blizzard and storm Sandy. Generally speaking, the owner of the property where the tree or limb landed — not where the tree’s roots are — is responsible for the damage if it occurred during a storm.