Trees on private property Acquisition of a permit is mandatory before felling a tree whose diameter is equal to or greater than 10 cm (measurement taken 1.3 m from the ground). However, the city-dwelling neighbor of the tree owner might argue (i) that the owner of the tree knew or should have known that the tree was dead or dying and likely to fall, (ii) that under the “urban rule” the owner of land in a developed area is liable for damages caused by falling trees, (iii) that the tree owner should have had the tree removed or at least attended to before it fell (at the expense of the tree owner), and (iv) that the owner of the tree should, therefore, pay all costs of removal after it fell. Minnesota State Bar Association. For information about becoming a Maryland Tree Expert or obtaining a Roadside Tree Permit Passed in 1914, this Law and its regulations were developed to protect our roadside trees by ensuring their proper care and protection and to ensure their compatibility with an efficient and dependable public utility system. Essentially, even for decaying or dead trees, a landowner is not liable if (a) he has no notice of his tree’s … In contrast, § 840 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts (1977) imposes a duty on a landowner to abate the condition when the encroaching vegetation is “artificial” – that is, when it is a result of human activity – but not when it is “natural.” The Maryland Court of Appeals noted that only a minority of other courts have applied the Restatement rule because of the difficulty in determining whether a tree or its growth may be as a result of human activity. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Due to its size, weight, and location, it is a danger. In order to obtain this permit, it must be shown that the tree is liable to cause damage, is dead, or is afflicted with an incurable disease. 511, 540 A.2d 1133 (1988), the Maryland Court of Appeals held that a landowner does not have a cause of action against an adjoining landowner when trees, vines, roots, and other plants or plant debris from the adjoiner’s property encroach upon and cause damage to the landowner’s property. In fact, in the Maryland case of Melnick v. C.S.X. In Montréal, a tree-felling permit (also known as an authorization certificate) is required to do so. The Court of Appeals in Melnick held that the Massachusetts Rule should be followed because any other rule “might spawn innumerable and vexatious lawsuits.” Judge John Eldridge wrote for the Court, “We have gotten along very well in Maryland, for over 350 years, without authorizing legal actions of this type by neighbor against neighbor.” Furthermore, the Court declined to categorize living trees, plants, roots, or vines as a nuisance, which must be abated. 1061 (D. Md. That decision was affirmed on appeal by the Court of Special Appeals and also by the Court of Appeals. The primary questions that our property and litigation attorneys are asked to address related to trees are: In Maryland, tree-damage liability was recently addressed by the former Maryland Attorney General who was asked to provide legal clarification about Maryland’s law in this area. Tree disputes can take many forms, such as trees that fall on a neighbor's property and cause damage or circumstances where a neighbor's tree blocks what would be a scenic or otherwise pleasant view. Maryland offers tips (PDF, 27KB) on how to hire someone to remove, or trim, your trees. Thus, in Maryland, an owner of rural or suburban forested land will usually not be liable for damage done by dead tree limbs or branches falling onto the property or persons of others. Urban landowners with trees need to take into account that there is a duty to inspect trees in Maryland. The Fancher court clarified that Virginia’s prior rule was specifically for: “times when the population was far less densely concentrated than at present, and more often engaged in agriculture.”. Landowners, however, may not enter onto the property of the adjoining landowners to do this without consent. On appeal, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Massachusetts Rule has not been universally accepted. An overview of Maryland tree law can be found in A Guide to Maryland Regulation of Forestry and Related Practices available onDNR's website. Homeowners in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC regularly face legal and practical issues related to potential tree damage, fallen trees, tree encroachment, and property-border disputes. A version of this article was published in The Daily Record on July 24, 2014. We are often asked: What happens if a tree falls in Maryland? Bethesda, MD 20817 Around here, we call this issue “Tree-Gate” because we receive so many calls and emails from clients who are concerned that a neighbor’s dead tree may fall and do serious damage to their property or injure a loved one. Accordingly, judges faced with such tree-falling cases began to carve out exceptions to the common law. Phone: (301) 291-5027 The Circuit Court granted the railroad’s motion for summary judgment and held that Melnick’s sole remedy was self-help. However, the Court of Special Appeals found that the accident in Hensley did not occur in a “suburban” setting, based on the size and type of the road on which Hensley rode and the amount of traffic on it. Generally, in Maryland, the cost of removing the tree and repairing any property damage falls to the owner of the property that sustained the damage. If you are not on notice of a dangerous condition which might cause the tree to … In light of the rural nature of their property (the Horners’ property comprised approximately ten acres, eight of which were in a wooded, natural state), Judge Smalkin held that the Horners did not have a duty to inspect for dead or dying trees adjacent to the railroad track, and that it would be unreasonable to impose such a duty on them. Washington, DC (and Virginia) has less guidance than Maryland regarding tree damage or fallen trees liability. 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