Home Buying in Newark>Question Details

Homehunter, Home Buyer in Brooklyn, NY

Sidewalk Issue

Asked by Homehunter, Brooklyn, NY Sun Apr 19, 2009

Looked at a property with a very large, very old tree in front. Tree roots have cracked the sidewalk and made both the sidewalk pavement and the driveway uneven. No one seems to know whether removal, or root cutback would be homeowner's or the city's responsibility. Any way to find out before purchasing the house? Thanks!

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I would think that the city would be able to tell you as well as your attorney after reviewing the local codes and ordinances. The city should definitely cite it in their list of things that must be repaired when you apply for the Code of Compliance which is required prior to purchasing. I would put in your purchase contract that the deal is contingent on the township of Irvington taking responsibility for the tree or, if it's your responsibility, you receiving a quote for the tree removal and sidewalk repair that doesn't exceed $<what ever you can afford to pay>. Feel free to email me at ihughes@LodestarCapital.com if you need further assistance. I do business in Newark and Irvington (grew up in both cities) so I know the area and town/city hall quite well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 13, 2009
Hello Homehunter,

I do apologize for the mistake of location. I checked the Irvington Township WEB site http://www.irvington.net and was unable to find a reference for Codes Enforcement department who would be able to answer that question for you. I would try giving them a call, if you have not already done so. If they are of no assistance try the Essex County government offices, building department. The main WEB address is http://www.essex-countynj.org.

I would obtain an estimate for removal just to know at least what it would cost if you are responsible for the removal. No doubt you are responsible for the homes driveway portion but the sidewalk is not completely clear.

If this tree is close to the home, or anywhere near where the main home sewer drain line is then you should also be careful of the condition of the sewer line and if the roots have invaded the homes foundation area. Large tree roots can easily damage or destroy sewer lines. The roots may not be an issue at all in these two areas but make sure you ask the Home Inspector about this when you select to inspect the home.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Emmanuel J. Scanlan
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC
http://www.psinspection.com
214-418-4366 (cell)
TREC License # 7593
International Code Council, Residential Combination Inspector #5247015-R5 (Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing and Building)
Certified Level I Thermographer (ASNT-TC1A Standards)
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Third Party Warranty Inspector #1593
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Inspector, County Inspection Program
Texas Department Of Insurance, VIP Inspector # 08507061016
Hayman Residential Engineering Services, Field Technician
CMC Energy - Certified Energy Auditor

Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!!
Web Reference: http://www.psinspection.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 20, 2009
Thanks for your response! This is in Irvington, NJ. I'm wondering whether I should get an estimate for removal before buying (deciding whether to buy) the house. There's apparently some arcane way of determining which part of the sidewalk is property owner's responsibility and which part is city's, but it isn't clear how to apply it to this situation, since there is no grass whatsoever, the sidewalk was simply laid around the tree!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 19, 2009
Hello Homehunter,

NYC is an interesting situation. In most parts of the country the homeowner is responsible for the maintenance of everything on the property up to, and in many cases including, the curb at the street. That would make them liable for maintenance for the public sidewalk in front of their home.

I checked the NYC Department Of Housing And Preservation WEB site and did not find a reference to who might be responsible. http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/owners/code-enforcement.shtml I would call the Code Enforcement Division for Brooklyn, which is listed on the WEB site, and ask them as they should know the answer to this.

Good luck!

Emmanuel J. Scanlan
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC
http://www.psinspection.com
214-418-4366 (cell)
TREC License # 7593
International Code Council, Residential Combination Inspector #5247015-R5 (Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing and Building)
Certified Level I Thermographer (ASNT-TC1A Standards)
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Third Party Warranty Inspector #1593
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Inspector, County Inspection Program
Texas Department Of Insurance, VIP Inspector # 08507061016
Hayman Residential Engineering Services, Field Technician
CMC Energy - Certified Energy Auditor

Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!!
Web Reference: http://www.psinspection.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 19, 2009
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