Insurance and Finance

Who’s Responsible?

By Paula Felps 7.20.15

Shared trees and fences can raise questions for homeowners. Neighbors may share many things — power tools, garage sale duties, the proverbial cup of sugar. But sometimes, shared items — such as fences and trees — can raise questions about who’s responsible for them.

“There are a lot of variables to consider,” says Paxton Hurst, a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance agency manager in Denton. “You have to look at each situation.”

Fences are often a source of confusion when it comes to who’s responsible for them. Hurst says if it borders the property of two homeowners, they’ll share in its costs and upkeep.

“Usually that will be split 50/50 between homeowners, so if there is damage to the fence, from the insurance perspective, the cost should be shared by both,” he says. “If it’s a stand-alone fence, then obviously the cost belongs to the individual whose property it is on.”

In situations with homeowners associations, exterior fences are typically maintained and repaired or replaced by the association — but Hurst says to read the paperwork and not assume that’s necessarily the case.

If a Tree Falls …

Falling limbs and uprooted trees can create severe damage, especially during Texas’ wild storm seasons. Hurst says that if a live tree causes damage, it will be covered by the insurance of the property owner who incurs the damage — even if the tree belongs to a neighbor.

“However, if that neighbor’s tree is dead, and it falls into your yard and causes damage, the neighbor could be guilty of negligence and would be responsible for it,” Hurst says.

Your best bet is to check with your agent as soon as damage occurs. And schedule a 360 Review® today with your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance agent to make sure you are fully covered.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2015 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance