Philip Wilson Arboriculture

Trees and your mortgage


When a tree causes concern in relation to property, insurers or mortgage providers may require a tree report from an arboriculturist. This often happens when a house changes hands, when the objective is to ensure that the mortgage value of the property does not diminish in future through tree-related damage such as building subsidence. The report should systematically evaluate risk and recommend a practical course of action. 

A key concern of insurers and mortgage providers is that the arboriculturist is competent. The letters M.Arbor.A. or F.Arbor.A. identify Professional Members and Fellows respectively of the Arboricultural Association, and these are bound by its codes of professional practice. Adequate professional indemnity insurance is also required. When soliciting quotations, be sure you are clear on these two points - the information should be given readily. 

Where tree surgeons offer advice, be aware of the potential conflict of interest if they intend to bid for any tree work contract arising from the advice.


Summary of Example Report

Trees in and around the property have not caused damage to the structure of the house, and are unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future. Thus, there are no implications for the mortgage value of the property.

A mature ash tree on the east boundary is 6m from the south-east corner of the house. It consists of three stems arising at ground level, one of which was felled at height 1m some years ago and is decayed. The decay has invaded the west stem of the tree, which leans towards the house, and may also be present in the east stem, which leans over the public footpath adjoining the east boundary. The decay is not sufficiently extensive to render the tree immediately unsafe.

The tree straddles the east boundary, so the first practical step is to clarify the ownership of the tree. Depending on the joint wishes of the owners (if ownership is shared), and any legal constraints that may arise such as the imposition of a Tree Preservation Order, there are several courses of action. Either the whole tree could be felled if not wanted by either party, the west stem only could be felled if not wanted by the owner of the property, or the west stem could be reduced by half as a precautionary measure. To justify the retention of the whole tree (if desired), a more detailed investigation of the extent of decay using specialized non-destructive equipment would be advisable.