Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Help Me Howard: Tree versus trailer
If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it -- well, forget that one. If a tree falls in your neighborhood, you can bet people will see, hear and feel it, and with hurricane season here, it brings up the question who is responsible. That is what one man is asking, especially since the tree is literally lifting up his home. Take a look at tonight's Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- There is one indisputable fact: life is what you make of it. Alfred lives in a trailer park and loves it.
Alfred White: "I am retired, thank the Lord, living the life of luxury, without a wife."
Ten years ago, Alfred bought this trailer from the park, and they put it in this spot.
Alfred White: "When they moved it in, they moved it right over the roots of the trees."
They put it right up against two trees, filled with shady branches, supported by sturdy trunks.
Alfred White: "And they are getting bigger and bigger."
As the trunks got bigger, they started lifting up the skirt on his trailer.
Alfred White: "Right now, you can see it's buckling up here, and, sooner or later, they are going to raise the trailer up."
And while the trunks are picking up the trailer, the branches are popping the top.
Alfred White: "The limbs are coming down, punctured holes in the roof, tore the gutters down during the last hurricane, and I'd like to get them removed."
When the park rented Alfred this space ten years ago, the landlord promised to take the trees out right away.
Alfred White: "And that's the same mantra I've got for 10 years. You know, 'I'll look after it, we'll get rid of it.'"
When the park ignored Alfred, he turned to the city of Hollywood, assuming the trees had to violate something.
Alfred White: "I called the City Code Enforcement. He said there is nothing he can do. It's not against code."
The only other option for Alfred, before the hurricane season roars in, is to crank up a chainsaw.
Alfred White: "Are you kidding? Look at the height of them things. I'm 79 years old, I'm not going to take them down."
But what can he do with trees that in a storm will probably smash his trailer? Let's uproot Howard from his law office for an answer.
Howard Finkelstein: "Alfred wins for two reasons. First of all, the park put the trailer in that spot. Secondly, at that time, they promised they would take care of the tree. Alfred relied on them, and they are responsible for the problem."
When we spoke to the trailer park supervisor, she told us they would check out the trees. They did agree the trees had to go and told me they were waiting on bids to come back before chopping them down. Howard says they made a smart money-saving move.
Howard Finkelstein: "If a park is notified of a hazard and does not take corrective action, they are responsible for any damage that the tree causes, including falling on the trailer during a storm."
With hurricane season here, Alfred wants the tree threat out of the way because, after all, you don't need that kind of excitement in retirement.
Alfred White: "No, it's good. It's boring as hell, really. Chill out. I do a lot of reading. I do a lot of work in the house."
Patrick Fraser: "Now trees are a big problem after a hurricane. Remember, if your tree falls in your neighbor's yard, you are responsible for removing the tree. They have to pay for the damage, unless you were notified ahead of time the tree was unhealthy or a danger, then, like the trailer park in Albert's case, you might be on the hook for everything."
A situation uprooting your life so much you can't see the forest for the trees? Contact us. We won't chop them down with chainsaws, but we can provide a little legal shade for you.
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