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Trees and the council
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Delilah


Posts: 7
Joined: May 2013
Post: #1
18-12-2014 12:24 PM

So a massive tree owned by the council is 15ft from my victorian house and its roots are causing the garden walls to heave and there is a crack in my house

I have just spoken to the council and they have told me I have to mount a legal case against them if I want them to do anything about the tree!! Just the survey will cost 1000 pounds!!

Seems a tad unfair that only rich people can protect their property against the lax maintenance practices of Lewisham council.

Anyone had any experience that could help me out here?

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #2
18-12-2014 12:34 PM

Have you approached your buildings insurance company? If the tree is causing damage, they are the ones that are going to end up paying out for repairs, so it's in their interest to take this up with the council.

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Delilah


Posts: 7
Joined: May 2013
Post: #3
18-12-2014 12:39 PM

I have a 2000 quid excess on subsidence related work in my policy, so the survey has to come out of my pocket.

Surely it is the council's insurance that should pay out .. not mine?

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Londondrz


Posts: 1,538
Joined: Apr 2006
Post: #4
18-12-2014 12:46 PM

Threaten to sue them, it usually oils the cogs.

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #5
18-12-2014 12:48 PM

I see what you mean. However, it does sound like you're going to have some serious repairs done, so you're probably going to end up shelling out the excess one way or another.

I wonder if you can pursue the council for a refund if the survey shows they are at fault. I can see why they wouldn't want to pay up front, given that it's public money. I had subsidence in a house that I had very recently bought and my insurers pursued the surveyor and previous insurer, but meanwhile got on with the repairs. In the end I think they all split the costs between them. However, and sadly, no one offered to split the excess with me!

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EDjules


Posts: 17
Joined: Sep 2012
Post: #6
18-12-2014 01:51 PM

Maybe speak to your local MP to look into for you.

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tincan


Posts: 27
Joined: Apr 2012
Post: #7
18-12-2014 02:32 PM

its a shame to rip a tree out just because its producing a few cracks. Often removing the tree can cause just as many problems because the effect of suddenly removing the roots from the London clay has.

this is probably why Lewisham don't bother planting trees anymore because everyone has a fobia of greenery within 100m of their pile of bricks- and then launch legal proceedings against the council if a few cracks appear.

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Delilah


Posts: 7
Joined: May 2013
Post: #8
18-12-2014 02:59 PM

If they maintained the trees properly i.e pollarding them every year then it wouldn't be an issue. This is standard procedure in Southwark, I don't see why we shouldn't have the same standard of maintenance here!.

As for not caring about a "few cracks in your foundations" .... a rather naive comment in my opinion. Victorian houses need to be carefully maintained if they are still going to be standing in another 100 years!

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #9
18-12-2014 03:47 PM

There was historic subsidence in my current house caused by a neighbour's oak tree. They are now obliged to crown it every few years. I don't see why Lewisham shouldn't be under the same obligation.

I still think your insurance is your best course of action, including looking into legal remedies where needed. They have the resources and motivation.

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Delilah


Posts: 7
Joined: May 2013
Post: #10
18-12-2014 05:03 PM

Thank you rshdunlop your advice is much appreciated. I will give it a try!

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Tarquin


Posts: 28
Joined: Mar 2014
Post: #11
18-12-2014 05:30 PM

Most official bodies, like the council assume/hope everybody is ignorant of their legal rights - it all boils down to who is legally responsible for the tree beyond your property - get a free half hour with a solicitor (if they still do that).
At face value it looks like they are - but there is the added complication of the roots, which is why legal advice is vital.

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Tarquin


Posts: 28
Joined: Mar 2014
Post: #12
18-12-2014 05:36 PM

One more thing - if it is the council's legal duty to sort out the tree then - you don't have to launch a case against them. Launching a case against someone is only valid - when they can deny liability/responsibility for the issue.

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152047


Posts: 128
Joined: Jan 2011
Post: #13
18-12-2014 10:52 PM

You might want to speak to the Council's tree officer.

I understand that there has been a few comings and goings in relation to that post over the last few years so I am not sure who is currently in that role.

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EDjules


Posts: 17
Joined: Sep 2012
Post: #14
19-12-2014 12:57 PM

my husband is a tree surgeon and advised that the tree would need to be heavily reduced every 2/3 years to reign in the growth of the roots until it can be cut down. doing it in one go will kill the roots and collapse foundations. this sort of maintenance is very costly for councils hence their unwillingness to help. in the 'tree biz' lewisham is known for having poor maintenance.

found this for tree officers if that helps http://www.ltoa.org.uk/contacts/borough-...1-lewisham

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tincan


Posts: 27
Joined: Apr 2012
Post: #15
19-12-2014 02:43 PM

naïve - not sure about that.

I didn't mention cracks in your foundations..I mentioned cracks generically...(your mentioning of cracked foundations implies impending structural doomsday(!))

As an architect I know that your Victorian house has very minimal brick footings as foundations and as such any roots wont be effecting them but instead effecting the London clay and local water content of the soil they lay onto. (If indeed your house is suffering active subsidence caused by tree roots). The cracks you see need to be assessed as critical or non-critical to the structural stability of the house, now and going forward.

I guess you haven't had a detailed structural survey undertaking to examine the cracks and their probable cause, solution or seriousness- I would do this first...Victorian properties have lots of cracks..not all of them you need to freak-out over.

also I don't know how easy it is to prove origins of subsidence issues in London soils (possibly clay)? - as there could be counter arguments to the cause.

possibly best to: get a SE to assess actual issue then discuss a solution with interested parties. This would be in contrast to your default - cut it down and launch legal proceedings against Lewisham.

merry christmas

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tincan


Posts: 27
Joined: Apr 2012
Post: #16
19-12-2014 03:06 PM

this is an interesting article:

http://www.heathandhampstead.org.uk/plan...subsidence

...interesting it makes a good point about even mentioning subsidence to your insurance company can be more hassle than its worth - causing higher premiums till eternity...

....Polyfiller?

This post was last modified: 19-12-2014 03:08 PM by tincan.

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