Tree Cut Wrong Way

(WSVN) - The neighbor had a tree that he wanted to cut down. He did. Only problem: It didn’t fall the way he planned, and instead, it smashed into a neighbor’s property. Now she wants the damage repaired, which is why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser

If you look online at YouTube, you can find dozens of videos of people cutting down a tree, and it doesn’t go as they expected.

Margarette Adam doesn’t have to go online to see tree damage. She can walk out her back door.

Margarette Adam: “When they damage the screen, I have to pay $110.”

Unfortunately for Margarette, her neighbor decided to cut down his palm tree. It fell the wrong way.

Margarette Adam: “I’m at work and my son called me, said, ‘Mom, something happened in your backyard. Your neighbor came and said he was trying to cut the tree and damaged your screen.'”

Damaged might be an understatement. The neighbor’s palm tree fell, tore up Margarette’s screens and bent her frames.

Margarette Adam: “We called the neighbor. Of course, he came. He was really nice about it. He said, ‘OK, not to worry. I will take care of it. I will have somebody come tomorrow to see what is involved to fix it. Not to worry, I’ll fix it.'”

That neighbor is a renter. When he found out it would cost $2,100 to fix, he didn’t pay.

So Margarette called the man who owned the house.

Margarette Adam: “‘Oh, I’m pretty busy. I don’t have time for that. It’s my Realtor that is taking care of this house, and I don’t have time to call my Realtor!'”

The runaround continued because the Realtor did nothing.

Margarette Adam: “I have not heard from him.”

The renter, owner and Realtor do all have one thing in common: They are not worried about this mess at Margarette’s house.

Margarette Adam: “I’m upset and I’m angry, and the way they approach is so not nice. They could have tell us, ‘OK, I don’t have the means right now.'”

And if they have the means to pay, it means no one plans to pay. Howard, legally, what’s the best thing to do?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Since the people probably responsible keep pointing fingers at each other, legally, the best thing to do is sue both the landlord and the tenant in small claims court. That way, you don’t have to hire a lawyer, and a judge will decide if the landlord or the tenant or both have to pay you.”

We called the property owner. He said he thought the problem had been taken care of, to contact the Realtor. We did. He said the renters wanted to pay. We said, Great, give us their name and we will talk to them. He said no, and they had moved to another state anyway. We then contacted the owner again to let him know Margarette was going to sue. He said “OK.”

Howard Finkelstein: “When you win, the court gives you what’s called a judgement. And with that, you can sometimes garnish their wages, their assets, damage their credit, and since the house doesn’t have a homestead exemption, you can go after the house if the landlord is held liable. Facing that, it makes it more likely the people owing money will pay up.”

Margarette Adam: “I’m going to fill out the paperwork by tomorrow.”

Margarette will now sue in small claims court because she had to spend $2,100 to repair the damage from her neighbor’s tree-cutting mistake.

Margarette Adam: “Now I have my backyard back to normal, but I need the money because it was not something planned. It was out of pocket, and I need my money back.”

Some people worry about going to small claims court, but if you are suing for $5,000 or less, it’s the easiest way to go.

The court is designed for people who don’t have a lawyer. And the judge knows you are on your own, so they guide you along. The only drawback is, it can cost a couple of hundred dollars to file the paperwork. But when you win, the judge makes the person you beat pay those fees back to you. So it’s a good option for you.

Facing a problem you fear is gonna turn into a buzz saw? Wanna stop it from crashing down on you? Contact us, and let us help to make sure you don’t have an axe to grind with anyone anymore…

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
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On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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