If my neighbor’s tree ruined my septic tank, who is responsible for paying the $10,000 that it’s going to cost to repair it?

UPDATED: Sep 21, 2011

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If my neighbor’s tree ruined my septic tank, who is responsible for paying the $10,000 that it’s going to cost to repair it?

My parents lived in the house before I did. I specifically remember hearing them ask the neighbors many times if there was something they could do about the tree because the roots were sprouting up in our yard; they told us no every time. Now my toilets had been acting weird and a plumber came and said there are roots all over my pipes and there is a lot of damage. I don’t think that I should have to pay for the whole thing; after all it is the neighbor’s tree that has caused the damages.

Asked on September 21, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New Mexico


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the tree that supposedly caused the septic system problems and resulting damages was not planted by your current neighbor, he or she has no responsibility for liability and resulting damages caused by the tree's roots.

The rationale is that for one to be liable for claimed damages, he or she must have caused the situation to occur for the claimed liability.

In your situation, potentially roots from other trees on your property, or others may have created the problem. The reality is that under the laws in this country, if someone buys property and a naturally growing object damages another's property, the owner of the property that the naturally grown object has caused damages is not liable for any claims unless he or she planted the item and knew beforehand that the item would cause problems.

Good question.


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