Neighbor's tree crashes into home; homeowner foots the bill

Neighbor's tree crashes into home; homeowner foots the bill
Tree crashes into Chesterfield home (Source: Bill Hiner)

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A Chesterfield couple is out of a home after storms caused a massive tree to crash right into it.

Even though the tree belonged to their next door neighbor, the couple with the damaged property has to foot the bill.

It's the scenic trees of this neighborhood off Ferncreek Place in Chesterfield that drew Bill and Jamie Hiner to their home five years ago.

"It was almost like being in the country, but you still had the closeness of neighbors," said Bill Hiner.

After Sunday's storms, their idyllic dwelling is looking a lot worse.

"There was this horrific noise and a thud and the house shook," said Bill Hiner.

"Our entire living room, our entire dining room, our entire foyer, our kitchen, our second floor loft was damaged," said Jamie Hiner.

Even though it was their neighbor's tree, the thousands-of-dollars worth of damage will come out of the Hiners' pocket. That's because if a healthy tree falls and damages property, it is considered an Act of God.

"It is the responsibility of the homeowner - whose home was hit - for their insurance to pay for the damages, not the homeowner that the tree was a part of," said Jamie Hiner.

If you find yourself in a similar position, here are a few tips to keep in mind. Experts say if a person feels their neighbors tree is unsafe, you must contact the neighbor and let them know what your concerns are. At that point, it's up to the neighbor or the owner of the tree to preferably have a certified arborist look at it and give an assessment of the overall condition.

If the person assessing the tree feels it should be removed, they should say so in writing. If some time has passed, and the owner of the tree has not done anything, the concerned neighbor should send a certified letter to the owner of the tree.

"Your property, things that you do, it can affect other people, and I think communication and awareness is the best thing," said Bill Hiner.

For the next six months, the Hiners will be out of a home, but they want to make sure other homeowners learn from their experience.

"We hope to arm other people with knowledge so that when this does happen again to somebody else, that they may have a little more knowledge than we had," said Jamie Hiner.

The Hiners say their insurance company is working to find them and their two dogs temporary housing. They say they plan on moving back in once the repairs are complete.

Copyright 2018 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.