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After seeing a couple of recent multi-million dollar verdicts come down against landlords for damage and injuries caused by falling branches, it’s clear that tree maintenance is an important part of rental property management.

And that means hiring a tree expert that you can trust.

If property owners really knew their potential liability if something were to go wrong, they had take more care in choosing a qualified professional to do their work, says Will Harovas, co-founder of, a tree expert referral service based in Connecticut.

Harovas offers property owners these helpful tips on how to hire the right tree expert — one that can save money, and avoid liability:

1. Only hire state licensed arborists. Request a copy of their license before you hire them.

2. Request proof of insurance. If a contractor is uninsured or underinsured, homeowners could be held responsible for damages and injuries that occur as a result of the tree work.

3. Ask for a written proposal that specifies exactly what work will be done. Be clear what you want so there is no miscommunication over your expectations (especially for cleanup).

4. Don’t pay more than 10% up front. In most circumstances, unless it’s a very big job, you will pay the entire cost after work is performed. Never pay cash up front before work is started.

5. Ask for references. Any reputable tree removal expert will be able to produce a few reference letters. If not, don’t hire them.

6. Avoid out of state contractors. Sometimes less credible, out of state contractors follow storms and blanket neighborhoods to make a quick buck. You should be wary of just companies as it is more difficult to check accurate references and follow up later should something go wrong.

7. Be sure to clearly mark the septic area in your yard before the job starts. Heavy bucket trucks can do significant damage to septic systems that can cost thousands to repair.

For more information, or to download How to Hire a Local Tree Expert, visit

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