Tree causing subsidence | Oxfordshire County Council

Tree causing subsidence

What to do if you think a tree is causing subsidence or cracks to your wall.

Subsidence cracks in a wall

Just because a tree is nearby, it does not necessarily follow that it is the cause of damage to your property. There are many other reasons why property might be damaged.

Trees can cause both direct (contact) and indirect (subsidence) damage to built structures. Direct damage can normally be rectified fairly easily but indirect damage is often a lengthy and costly process.

For subsidence to occur several factors must be present:

  • tree roots within the vicinity of the built structures foundations
  • a shrinkable clay soil and a moisture deficit within the soil.

Trees may not be the only cause of the damage and other issues such a leaking drains must be looked into as they can effectively wash the soil from under the foundations giving a similar appearance of a downward rotational movement that is typically associated with vegetation related damage.

What should I do

  • Obtain professional advice as soon as you notice any damage to a structure.
  • As a general rule, you should contact your house insurer and /or your mortgage provider as soon as you notice a structural problem with your home.
  • The insurers will normally investigate the matter, its probable cause and will deal with any legal issues arising.
  • If you are a tenant, you should advise your landlord immediately you notice or suspect there is a problem. If you are not insured, it will be your responsibility to prove that your neighbour's tree(s) caused the problem, if you wish to recover the costs.
  • You will need a qualified structural surveyor, to establish the cause of the problem a solicitor and a competent arboriculturist to deal with your claim.

Who to contact

Last reviewed
30 March 2016
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