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Peter G.
Peter G., Solicitor
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 758
Experience:  Law degree from the University of Melbourne 1978, with thirty years of practice experience.
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re question regarding tree in caravan park, the owner of the

Customer Question

re question regarding tree in caravan park, the owner of the park has contacted us and states because the tree is in our boundry . i asked if the tree fell over the fence and onto a camper, or car who would be responsible . basically the answer was if it hit a camper/ car on the other side of the fence theyr resposible, but if it hits anything in inside our fence line is our resposibility. Apparently they claim we have a lease on the land ,we have signed a notice to prospetctive c/van park residence form 83and aRsidential rental Terms, Not a lease . where do we stand in this debacle. cheers
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Australia Law
Expert:  Peter G. replied 5 months ago.

Peter G. :

Hello. What exactly is your question? I can't make it out from what you have said.

Customer :

WE live in a caravan park own our unit,recent tree damage caused by falling tree.Park owner accepts no responsibility for damage or maintance for trees.As we do not own the land we feel we should not be held responsible for damage caused,especially as immediate area behind us is used by campers,tents,campervans etc.this is the second incident in immediate area approx. 6 months,as well as smaller limbs etc.Park most recent newsletter states that if tenant pays for tree remoal or lopping park owner will organise removal re-sell or use wood.If we did pay for this does that mean we have accepted responsibility for said trees.Damage to our bbq and glass table is approx. $700,However we believe the safety issue is of great concern,as trees are obviously rotting and in need of repair

Submitted: 6 days ago. sorry forgot to put the origianl question in cheers
Peter G. :

What State are you in?

Customer :

Victoria. East Gippsland

Peter G. :

Do you have any insurance yourself?

Customer :

yes we do, premiums will be affected if we put claim in

Peter G. :

The trouble with this situation is very probably that no one is at fault. The owner is not be liable for pure accidents.

If there has been a pattern of falling branches and the owner has failed to do anything about it, which are reasonably should be done, then there may be scope for a claim in negligence. However, the amount of money is so small, that if he does not pay you upon your demand, what can you do about it? Going to a solicitor may well cost you more than you will recover, even if you do have a good claim.

The fact that you theoretically have a legal claim, does not mean in practical terms that you can always pursue such a claim.

The fact that he may not have done anything about falling tree branches, would be an extremely interesting fact if, for instance, someone was seriously injured and there was a large damages claim. That person may well be able to establish negligence. But it is the negligence that you need to found some liability in the owner – pure mischance or accident will not be sufficient for him to be legally liable.

I may not have answered your question – please come back if there is any further clarification required.

Customer :

what I cant understand is two factors A am renting the land only B if the tree/branch damages in anything behind our fence line is on us, but if the tree/branch falls over the fence line and hurts/damages, they will claim responsibility. I don't understand its either my responsibility our theirs. I was just out of the shower when the limb came down, and if it fell towards our unit instead of the side, it would have me. we pay rent weekly and are unsatisfied with their approach to all of this

Peter G. :

I am not completely sure what you are saying, but, if you have some form of insurance yourself, for your property or contents, it will probably also include a public liability cover – which means that if you are legally liable to any other person, your insurance will cover you.

As a tenant, you do not have any responsibility to make sure any trees are in a safe condition – it is beyond your capacity as a tenant. Anyone injured as a result of the falling branch cannot be your responsibility.

Peter G. :

If no one has been injured by these falling branches, it is all a little bit hypothetical at this stage.

Peter G. :

I'll have to step out probably until tomorrow morning - but I will come back to this then.

Customer :

yes, we have public liability, and as far as I know there has been no official reports on the condition of the trees, my argument is we only rent the land not own it. when u rent a house it is the landlords responsibility for any repairs due to faults eg broken fences etc unless they are damaged by the tenant. we informed the owner 2 yrs ago about the trees rotting, and we are not the only ones that have,and yes there has been previous incidents, ie next door had a large branch fall down and damage their power metre board, no payment was paid to the owner for the removal of the tree .the neighbour next to him had a large limb fall in his yard, the owner has stated if we want the trees removed/lopped he will share the cost by clearing the debris. the tenants pay to get the tree down and he takes away the wood, which he puts up at his farm and uses for the fire in the shed.

Customer :

thank u for that advice. the owner now states we are leasing the land not renting.We have only signed a residential rental terms document and a notice to prospective caravan resident form 63. the owner now claims if the tree falls over our fence line {from our yard)onto a guests car/ tents etc they would be liable, but because it fell in our yard onto our bbq it is up to us to claim on our hounse and contents insurance. we either are liable for the tree and maintenance or not does not make sense, in other words depends on where the tree lands to whom it s reponsible

Peter G. :

No, you are not responsible for any damage occasioned by falling branches – you are a tenant and cannot have responsibility for maintaining safety of the trees.

I think the owner is correct – if the barbecue, and any other damaged items, are owned by you, not the owner, then you have suffered the loss and I think you should be at least contacting your insurance company – you could discuss the fact that the owner has not maintained trees properly and that you think he is liable – the insurer might itself make a claim on the owner – or at least advise you what to do.

The botXXX XXne here, as said above, is that if the owner does not agree to pay your damages, what are you going to do about it? The loss does not appear to be sufficient for you to see a solicitor – because the costs of the solicitor might outweigh any benefit you ultimately get.

I would start by at least discussing this with your insurance company.

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