Richmond family faces massive bill after neighbor's tree falls - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Richmond family faces massive bill after neighbor's tree falls in their yard

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A family in Richmond's East End faces a massive bill, after a tree in a neighbor's yard smashed into their property.

The tree fell on two of John Jarrett's cars last Thursday during the heavy storm. He says they're totaled. The mess is still standing at the home off Melbourne Street, nearly a week later.

Insurance experts say if a tree falls on your property in Virginia, you're responsible for cleaning up the mess - even if the tree stood on someone else's lawn.

It will take several thousand dollars to clear the downed tree on Jarrett's lawn, completely taking over his backyard.

"I don't have $5,000. I don't have anything to clean it up," said Jarrett.

Jarrett has homeowners insurance. However, insurance agent Michael Fisher, of State Farm Insurance, says if the tree didn't damage an actual structure, insurance likely won't cover its removal.

"[The downed tree in Jarrett's backyard] didn't damage a shed…It didn't damage a house. So the debris removal would not be covered under insurance," explained Fisher.

In Jarrett's case, most of the tree hit the backyard, avoiding the house. The cars beneath the tree are a separate insurance issue.

However, Jarrett might be able to recover costs if he can prove the tree was dead, and the property owner ignored a request to clear it. Jarrett says he asked the landlord of the neighboring house two years ago to get rid of the tree, he says was clearly rotting.

"I looked at the tree, and I said [to the property owner], 'That tree has a hole in it. It looks like you ought to cut that tree down. In the future it might come down,'" continued Jarrett. "I don't know what I'm going to do."

The tree does appear to be visibly rotted or dead near its base. We weren't able to get in touch with the owner of the property next door.

With hurricane season coming up, insurance agents warn that now is the time to scan your property, and neighboring yards, for dead trees or limbs. Take pictures, and document any request you make for someone else to take down a dead tree.

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