Property purchases can sometimes involve the need for a homebuyer’s tree report. Also known as a mortgage tree report, mortgage companies can demand one if a tree (or trees) are situated on, or near to, a property. This was recently the case for one of our clients. He was hoping to buy a house in Nottingham and contacted us in August 2018 to seek our assistance.
When applying for a mortgage, the risk of damage from nearby trees may necessitate a professional homebuyer’s tree report.
Homebuyer’s Tree Report
Our client advised us that the need for a homebuyer’s tree report had arisen because of a nearby London Plane tree. Situated on the pavement outside, it was eight metres from the bay window at the front of the house. The tree was owned and maintained by the Highways department of Nottingham City Council.
The first step towards identifying whether or not this tree could pose any risk to the property was to find out all we could about the house. We therefore gathered information relating to:
- The history of any previous damage to the building caused by the tree or its roots.
- Whether or not the property had been underpinned.
- The age of the property.
- The depth of the foundations of the house.
- The type of soil in the immediate area.
We also asked our client to provide a copy of any previous arboricultural report and the RICS homebuyer survey.
The information we gathered from our client about the house, which included a structural survey, was encouraging. Since being built in the 1930s there had never been any indication that it had suffered significant damage from the nearby tree or its roots. However, since we cannot rely solely on existing data when making an assessment, we planned to visit the property to carry out a thorough inspection. We did so within twenty-four hours of receiving our client’s instruction.
The tree was twelve metres in height. Upon inspection it was clearly safe and in good condition. It had caused some damage to the pavement and minor cracks to the boundary wall of the property. However, the soil in the surrounding area had a low plasticity index. This means it is not prone to major shrinkage, making subsidence less likely.
The London Plane outside the house.
Report and recommendations
The day following our site visit we sent a full report to our client, which detailed our findings and recommendations. We concluded that risk of subsidence to the property was low. However, London Plane is a large species of tree and their roots, which spread a considerable distance, are known to cause subsistence. We therefore recommended that the tree be properly managed and regularly maintained, and suggested that the tree be pruned every five years.
Our client was delighted that with our help, he was able to fully meet his mortgage provider’s requirements and continue with the home buying process without delay.