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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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California, Riverside County: Purchased a house in August

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California, Riverside County: Purchased a house in August 2013, tree roots have damaged the neighbors sidewalk in his back yard. It caused flooding in his home last year (2012).

Damage is not visible to any part of my property, i was unaware of damage to his property. I was not informed of the damage by the neighbor until after i had lived in the house for a month and was having the trees removed anyway.

There were no liens on the property or disclosures by the real estate agents.

The neighbor is attempting to get me to pay for the damages. Am I legally liable?

William B. Esq. :

Thank you for using our service. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I would like to assist you today.

William B. Esq. :

Unfortunately, you are responsible for all "out of pocket expenses" to repair damage caused by trees growing on your property.

Customer:

even if damages were done before i moved in?

Customer:

Can i pursue damages against the previous home owner?

William B. Esq. :

Yes, the liability is tied to the property itself. You can have recourse against the seller or realtors if they fraudulently represented the situation, but there is no residual liability for the prior owner otherwise.

Customer:

do you have some type of reference for that finding?

Customer:

It seems bizarre that he has known about this for years but is allowed to wait for a new home owner before he decides to take action.

William B. Esq. :

The law is based on common law "trespass" (your tree roots trespass onto his). I do not have the resources to do a case law search through this forum, but I can reference you to an earlier post by another expert with essentially the same information: http://www.justanswer.com/real-estate-law/69row-california-tree-roots-neighboring-tree-damaged.html). The fact that this neighbor has known for years that this issue has been ongoing, but has failed to notify or to take affirmative efforts to stop this damage, may work in your favor to mitigate your liability (reduce how much you may owe), but you will still carry some liability for the damage.

William B. Esq. :

Here is a much better resource for you with the statutes on trees of any substantial size: http://www.stimmel-law.com/articles/encroaching_trees.html

Customer:

ok, this gives me something to work with.

Customer:

thanky ouj

William B. Esq. :

You are welcome, I do wish you the best with this matter.

Customer:

i have a comment on the cite you sent me.

Customer:

On the follow up questions it was asked.

Customer:

4. Wouldn't I have to prove that landowner of encroaching tree was negligent?
and answered
4) You would only have to prove that you gave your neighbor notice about actual or potential damage the these roots were causing.

Customer:

There was no notification to me. It would have been impossible since i only moved in a month earlier.

Customer:

I only found out about the damage when i was actually removing the trees .

Customer:

Is he correct?

William B. Esq. :

No, the only reason notice comes into effect with these types of issues is when the neighbor notices significant damage, but fails to give the tree owner notice so that they can correct the issue in a timely fashion. (There is no duty to do so, but it can significantly affect damages - how much you would owe your neighbor). With regard to notice, keep in mind that your interest in the property is "tacked" onto your prior owner's.

William B. Esq. :

The reason it affects damages is that, for example, your neighbor can't put a new patio over a place where they have already noticed cracks in their sidewalk.

Customer:

OK, so the posting that was referenced isn't valid.

Customer:

I guess i am done.

Customer:

Thank you

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