What did we talk about? Below is the Edited Transcript
Your tree is hanging over my property
Hey everyone it’s a beautiful Monday afternoon here in Saint Louis, Missouri. Today we have a story about dogs, we have neighbors, I mean should be just a chock full of information!
So for those of you who don’t know me my name is John Schink and I am the founder and managing broker of Deerwood Realty here in Saint Louis, Missouri. On our channel we like to talk about neighbors. We like to talk about HOAs. We like to talk about things that that are annoyances and and how we would go about, you know, working together and figuring out, “how do we go about changing that?” You know, “How do we fix issues?” “How do we solve problems here in 2021?”
So to do that I need content so give me a call sometime 314-274-3964. Leave me a voicemail. Let me know about your neighbor that’s irritating you, your HOA that’s crazy, anything you want. And then if you don’t want to call it’s totally fine I have an email address email@example.com that’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to send me an email and tell me a story about your neighbors, or you know whatever you’d like to do.
So, today we have an article from from Massachusetts. I don’t know if any of you have been to Massachusetts. I was there for about a month 20 years ago. Very interesting, a lot different than the Midwest, at least where I’m at but no complaints. No, not going to rip on Massachusetts. But anyway the story. It’s kind of fascinating. It’s about well… mainly I’m interested in the tree story but there’s a little bit of a dog story or component in there and so I figured I’d put that in there as well. So we’ll just go through the article and I’ll get that over to you now and, let’s see if we can, if we can, kind of go through it together.
This is the Adams board of health malls dog ban hears more on trees dispute. This is Adams, Massachusetts.
“The board of health is mulling a ban on dogs at the town’s athletic fields. Dogs are relieving themselves of their solid waste on the athletic fields and players and spectators are stepping on it. Dog excrement in public areas has been a complaint raised regularly with the board. Two years ago it was a build up along the (I have no idea) rail trail that came to light as the snow melted that had town officials urging residents to clean up after their pets. The board tabled the discussion on that matter for now. Board member Peter Hoyt asked for animal control officer to be president the next meeting for clarification on enforcement of the possible regulation in the future.”
The second issue was
“board members also held off on making decisions on a neighbor dispute over trees until town council could weigh in”
So this is the health board and “the issue dated to May when two neighbors at five and seven summer street brought their quarrel to the board. One neighbor is concerned with five trees on another property that hang on hang into their property they invited a certified arborist to inspect the trees who recommended that all five trees be removed because they represented a moderate risk. We do have a loss of activity in our yard due to these trees. We can’t use it the way we want to. It certainly impacts the value of our house. We certainly don’t want to live with this threat.”
Talking about trees, “the neighbor also appealed to the board’s humanity. The risk is real. Humans are involved. We just want to live with peace of mind that we can use our property the way we want it. The other neighbor, who was visibly frustrated during the previous meeting when this issue came up… he said, I live with ten trees that belong to another person doing the exact same thing to my house and I live with no fear I think this is false fear from a bunch of people who think they’re tree whisperers. Moreover, Sherman had a tree removal expert examine the trees and they recommended that they stay up,”
And then the neighbors said also, “those trees right now are filled with beautiful foliage. It’s one reason I bought the house so I find that taking those trees out is a needless intrusion.” So then the chairman of the board took pictures of the trees on the properties and presented to the board and one of the neighbors noted that there could be “serious liability on the part of Sherman if a tree were to fall on their property and injured or killed a member of his family.”
And then, this board member wondered if the board of health or the town of Adams could be held liable for damages if the board decided that Sherman could keep the trees and one and one or more of them fell on cross property
So, I mean what do you think?
What would you do?
Have you ever been in a situation where a tree is coming over your yard and causing damage? Or you’re afraid?
I don’t know. I have some thoughts and I just wanted to go over them.
The first one is, let’s talk about this dog situation.
So, there’s dogs going all, you know going to the bathroom on a public sports field in this town and the solution becomes let’s just ban all the dogs?
What are we doing? Number one, Why can’t we pick up after our dog? And number two, Why are we banning dogs from this place? I mean it just the problem is created by itself. I mean, just, If you’re going to own a dog be a good dog owner. Now, What if these dogs are stray dogs and they’re using the park at night? I don’t know. Is it an issue for the health board to get involved with? But, at the end of the day who’s going to get involved with it? You’ve gotten to a point in 2021 where you in this town, if you care, if you have your dog in a park on the sports fields then it’s it’s no good no bueno.
And so now let’s move into the actual the neighbor story. So let’s put this together. So we have we one neighbor who’s upset with another neighbor and we don’t even know if the neighbor even talked to the other person. Or, if it would have done any good if they did. But, they’re convinced that there’s five trees that overhang their property in the backyard or near their house and those trees are going to fall over and kill one of them. Or, destroy their house and so they have come to the board to, you know, get a decree to demand that this other neighbor cut down his trees and his property. I just wonder what you all think about that.
And then I want you to think about something that comes across the real estate desk all the time for me. And that’s the advice of experts. Paid experts. So in the article it says that the neighbor found an Arborist to tell the board that the trees were a moderate risk.
Okay, so what would be a moderate risk? Walking down the street is a moderate risk. But even if you’re in your home and you slip and fall in your bathtub it’s a risk. At what point are we going to to? Look, I mean, why do we even? We’re advocating for a point. So we say it’s a moderate risk, but even more. So if I called hundred Arborists and I told them that I was upset about my neighbor’s tree, How many of them would come up with the answer after I paid them that said that the trees were a problem?
It’s not that experts don’t have integrity. That’s not what I’m saying. It’s that everyone has different opinions and even experts disagree on things. I mean, sometimes if you find too much consensus on something I wonder if that’s a sign that something’s seriously wrong. Because it just seems like we’re always going to disagree about things. So anyway.
Okay, if an Arborist said that it’s a moderate risk that means we should have the county health board come in and tell the neighbor to cut down their trees? It just seems a little bit off. Seems like a bad way to go. And so the other thing is, why is the board involved in this at all? The neighbors made it an issue of health by saying that their lives are at risk because a tree might fall on them. It’s not the venue in my opinion. It’s just not the venue. So, you’ve got a problem with your neighbor. For whatever reason now you’re going to the municipal authority to try and get relief? That’s tough.
So, I don’t know. But I wanted to go over the quotes. And the one group says they have a loss of activity in the yard. They can’t use the yard the way they want to. It impacts the value of the house and they don’t want to live with this threat. And then later it says, the risk is real humans are involved. What in the world is this? So let’s just assume that they bought their house second. So the man was already living here in peace. Now these people bought this house and they look in the backyard and they’re like, “you know what? There’s a branch that fell in my yard the other day. That man should remove all five of his trees that are hanging over our property.” What is that about? And then not only that, “we should go to the community and try and get our issues solved there rather than talk to our neighbor. Our neighbor may just flat out disagree with us but we’re just going to go straight to the authorities and have them be involved in it.” And the idea that it impacts the value of their house is a funny. One, because we have one neighbor saying that he bought his property because of the trees so it was a good thing for him. And then, we’re having these people say that the trees are an eyesore. it’s not even on their property but they overhang their property so that’s a fascinating thing.
As far as trees in a real estate deal let’s think about this a couple ways. One, when you’re walking through your property you should, you know, when you’re considering buying a property you should look at the landscape.
If you see a huge tree in the neighbors yard and it looks like it’s dead and it’s coming from the neighbor’s side, buy a different house and I know that sounds weird but you need to be looking for reasons not to buy this house versus reasons to buy. That’s at least the way I I look at it and then the other thing is when we have property inspections. So let’s say I’m representing the buyer and our inspector says there’s some tree limbs that hang over the house and they should be cut down.
And in 2021, in one of the hottest real estate markets ever for residential, if I’m representing the sellers the sellers are going to laugh. They’re going to say, “no we’re not going to cut down the trees. They’ve been here for a long time and we’re fine with it.” So, I have a real tough time with this idea that you bought a house and you now you’re going to force the neighbors, or try to force the neighbors to cut their trees down. I think that’s a little bit silly. So that’s that. And then like I said look at what you’re gonna buy. Look at the property. If the property slopes towards your house and there’s a lot of water coming towards the house and there’s a lot of water in the basement you can pay a lot of money to get that fixed but it’s better to just go find a different house and that’s my opinion.
You know if if the trees are preventing…. what I can’t understand… if the trees are preventing them from living, you know, their life they can’t use the way that use the yard the way they want to how did they walk back there? When they were looking at the house to buy in the first place? I mean, it doesn’t seem like, at least for trees it’s not like they just show up.
So anyway, I’m curious to know what you would do. Would you go talk to your neighbor and say, “hey can we fix this issue?” I know a lot of times neighbors will get together and say, You know, that tree is really a problem. Maybe I’ll pitch in half let’s get it knocked out.” But there’s five trees and this is just from Saint Louis off the top of my head between two and ten thousand dollars to get a tree cut down. and so you’re at five trees, I mean fifty thousand? I don’t think they’re gonna want to do that. I don’t think you’re going to want to spend, and I think that’s why this ended up in the municipal health board and not, you know, some other way.
Now, I’d be interested to know your guys’ opinion too on the liability. because it’s your property. If a tree falls on your property, at least I’ve seen in St. Louis, it goes on your property insurance. So if your neighbor’s tree falls on your house you pay for it out of your insurance.
Not a great deal. So I mean, I am sensitive to this issue. I can understand how your quality of life can be affected by a tree that looks like it’s going to fall over on your house every day. I don’t want you to think that I’m minimizing that. I’m just saying, What do you do about it? We have stories we’ll see from time to time where neighbors have just gone out in the middle of night and cut down a tree on a neighbor’s property. I don’t know that that’s a good plan. But anyway that’s what I was thinking today. Let me know what you think. Would you buy a house that had a huge tree in the backyard that was overhanging? Or would you even know to pay attention? Let me know. Call me send me a voicemail. You know put a comment in the comment section. Whatever you’d like to do, and I’ll catch you on the next one.