Many property owners don’t realize that part of their legal duty to maintain their premises in a safe, hazard-free condition includes their trees. In Pennsylvania: In Barker v. Brown, 340 A2d. 566 (PA. 1975), the court ruled that a landowner has a duty to make a visual inspection of trees and would be liable if he knew or should have known of the dangers.
A property owner may be considered negligent if he or she has a tree that falls and harms a person or damages property. Generally, the tree has to cause injury or damage for negligence to be claimed. Often, courts take into consideration whether the property owner was acting as a “reasonable man” in the care of his trees. That “reasonable man” standard of care may be different for different people and jurisdictions. Inspection and maintenance of trees might be considered reasonable for a property owner. However, professionals may be held to a higher standard of knowledge if a hazardous tree goes undetected.
Shaler Township may send a courtesy letter to advise you that it is your responsibility to inspect and maintain all trees on your property, and that the liability of those trees and the resulting damage that could ensue from them falling lies solely on you, the owner of the property. We encourage residents to have a detailed inspection of the tree(s) on their property as needed.