Irene Knocked My Neighbor's Tree On My Deck, But He's Run Away From His Foreclosure

Irene blew a listing tree onto Brian’s property from his neighbor’s yard, smashing both his deck and fence. A seeming wrinkle is that his neighbor has long ago skipped town, leaving behind his foreclosed house with its drowsy trees untended. Brian wants to know how he can track the guy down, private eye style, and get reimbursed for the tree removal.

Brian writes:

I live in a townhouse in MD and my neighbor on one side of me fell behind in his payments. He abandoned the house in December 2010 and left no forwarding information to my knowledge. In about March 2011, my wife and I notice that our recently vacated neighbor has a tree on the fence line that is becoming uprooted and leaning toward our property. We attempted to do our due diligence and contacted the town offices to find out the bank that owned it to address the problem. The town was unable to identify or give us this information. The bank hired a landscaping company to maintain the yard this summer. We spoke with them and they couldn’t tell us either. We asked them to relay the information regarding the tree but nothing ever happened.

Fast forward to the past weekend and our good friend, Irene, strolls into town. The tree finally fell and damaged our fence and deck. I did a little more digging onine and found a foreclosure case open for our neighbor and contacted the lawyers representing the bank. They told me that the house is still technically owned by my never-to-be-seen again neighbor. So I am stuck with a tree in my yard and no recourse as far as clean up is concerned. At this point, I have contacted my homeowner’s insurance company and filed a claim and am resigned to paying out a $500 deductible.

I have tried doing google searches for the old neighbor to track him down but I have no hits so far. All I have is his full name and I believe he said he was moving to North or South Carolina. Any suggestions for how I can avoid paying out of pocket or at least recoup the amount I’ll have to pay?

Well, you can stop cruising Yelp reviews for a private investigator. Even if he still lived next door and you could go over and bum a cup of sugar, it wouldn’t change anything. Typically, when your neighbor’s tree falls on your property, it’s your insurance company that pays, regardless of whether your neighbor busted along with the housing bubble. See this post. File the reimbursement request with your homeowner’s insurance company.