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tdlawyer, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 1096
Experience:  Lawyer with 9 years experience of advising on property issues.
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I have a problem concerning subsidence in my neighbours house,

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I have a problem concerning subsidence in my neighbour's house, who I have a good relationship with.

Information has been sent to me by his insurer telling me about quite serious subsidence. An arboricultural assessment has been made and as a result I am being asked to cut down two trees. My neighbour is being asked to do the same for several more. If it is clear that my trees are a contributory cause I am willing to take appropriate action, but I want to be certain this is the case.

I am a bit dubious about the insurer's request for me to cut down trees. I would question the results of their surveys. The letters sent to me are contradictory and poorly worded. My own arborist thinks the trees in question are not likely to be the cause of the subsidence. I have asked my own insurer if the cost of any tree survey I have made on my property can be covered under my policy and the answer is no - the subsidence is not on my property. I have also asked the insurer of my neighbour's house if the cost of such a survey could be included in my neighbour's claim and have not received a clear reply.

The insurer is also hinting that if I do not comply with the findings of their investigations certain liabilities could occur for me. These are, and I quote their letter,
1. '...should further damage occur to (my neighbour's) a later time you could be sought after for recovery of Insurers outlays for any future claim made'.
2. ' ...should you sell your property at any time any new purchaser would have to be advised that the (tree in question) has been implicated in contributing to subsidence damage (to the house in question) and it has the potential to cause damage in the future'.

I have two questions.
1. Have I a right to insist that the cost of any survey of trees on my property that I make because of my neighbour's claim can be paid as part of that claim?

2. Are the points made by the insurer in the paragraph above legally enforceable?

tdlawyer :

Hello, welcome to the website. My name isXXXXX can assist you with this.

tdlawyer :

In answer to your questions:

tdlawyer :

1. This will depend on the terms of the insurance policy that you have. Normally, they only cover their own surveys, not yours which you might have acquired without their consent.

tdlawyer :

2. If the tree is the cause of subsidence, and a future claim is made in another policy year, then you might be liable for it, yes. This will depend on the renewal terms of the policy and what you agree to in them.

tdlawyer :

As to selling the property, and information to be given, you would only have to give this information if asked.

tdlawyer :

This mighr be identified though on surveys carried out by surveyors, as is common with house purchases. There is therefore a real risk that you might need to identify this to a prospective purchaser.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for the reply, which is helpful in relation to our future liability and the need to disclose these matters if we sell..


I am not sure you have understood that is our neighbour's insurance we are concerned with, not ours. We have no input into any renewal. We want to know whether the neighbour's insurers can be asked to pay for any further investigations/tree work we may in the end have to do. Have I a right to insist that the cost of any survey of trees on my property that I make because of my neighbour's claim can be paid as part of that claim?

You have no right to insist upon anything from your neighbours insurer. You can only insist on things from your neighbour, and then insurer will indemnify the neighbour in relation to any liabilities sustained that are covered by the insurance policy he took out.

You would only have a right to insist he paid for surveys etc. if you had gone to court and succeeded against him and the court awarded these costs to you.

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