Fallen Apples?

by Readers Question

10:23 AM, 5th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Fallen Apples?

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Fallen Apples?

I’m a landlord that has a large apple tree within the back garden. It overhangs the public highway (end of a quiet cul-de-sac) which runs along the back of the property. As it has been that time of year that it usually deposits a large amount of apples on the footpath / road. newton apple

As I have been living just a round the corner a quite regularly walk the dog past here. Being neighborly I do tend to clear the fallen apples when passing, as if left they just go rotten causing a bit of a mess and safety issue.

However in the new year we will be moving, so l won’t be around to keep picking them up as they fall.

My question is am I actually liable to clear these apples up as they are outside of my property, and what if someone did step on one slipping injuring them self.

Many thanks

Richard



Comments

Charles King - Barrister-At-Law

11:44 AM, 5th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi RIchard, you do have a potential problem with this tree, and you are right to worry about a no-win no-fee lawyer trying to make a claim against you some day for a slipping accident (although I am told by some people in the know that this is no longer the gravy train that it once was). Although I have no direct experience of this sort of claim being brought it is certainly something I would personally be very wary of myself if it were my tree. The fact is that anything emanating from your land which affects neighbouring land detrimentally (whether it is public or private land) has the potential to found a claim in the torts of (1) nuisance and (2) negligence. Legal liability in nuisance tends to depend less on whether or not you have acted 'reasonably' (which would be a defence in negligence) but whether or not there has, in point of fact, been an actual interference with the neighbouring land. If slippy rotten apples are all over the pavement there is scope for you being found liable, which is definitely something you want to avoid. The same would be true even of leaves. It is relatively well known that overhanging tree branches can lawfully be lopped off by the neighbour whose land they overhang. The standard advice, rather comically, is that the neighbour who has done the lopping should then offer the lopped off branches back to the owner from whose tree they have been lopped! That is because, whilst the overhanging branches constitute a nuisance which an affected owner is entitled to abate, the branches remain the property of the tree owner. This might be a good time to check your household insurance. There are legal defences which might be available to you if you did find yourself in the horrible position of being sued. These include that, once you have let the land, the liability is really that of your tenant rather than you (subject to the exact terms of the lease/tenancy). Nobody, however, would want to spend a lot of money trying to argue that point in court. It is often a pity, when you have a magnificent mature fruit tree, to see it hacked about, but in your case I would err on the side of caution and get a reputable firm of tree surgeons to prune it right back. I hope this is of some help, and I wish you the best of luck!

John Pettman

12:43 PM, 5th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Firstly if your tree overhangs this constitutes a trespass. Secondly you have a legal duty to all those likely to be effected by your acts or omissions. Apply these points to your scenario. Is it reasonably foreseeable that rotten apples left on a public highway might cause a fall with resulting injury ?????
Why do you not cut back the tree ??? If you do not want the apples why not cut the whole tree down , someone who has a log burning stove may well cut it down for free provided they can have the wood

Kate Mellor

15:03 PM, 5th December 2016
About 2 years ago

I believe council bye laws require land owners to cut back and manage anything impinging on footpaths or roads. We've had council notices requiring the trimming of hedges and nettles growing into the footpath space bordering agricultural fields. I could envisage this stretching to windfall apples also.

Jay James

18:11 PM, 5th December 2016
About 2 years ago

How about paying to have the tree completely removed, so you can just relax when you move away?


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