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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Josh Dent and his girlfriend were spending time at their Midtown apartment last November when something startled them.

“I thought somebody was trying to get in our apartment,” Dent said.

Instead, he saw a large tree had fallen on to his girlfriend’s car and then crashed through their home window.

“Glass was everywhere. Her car got totaled. It ripped the frame out of the window,” he said.

The branch fell from a cluster of trees along the property line between his apartment building and the rooming house next door, both located on Stonewall Street close to Poplar Avenue.

“It seemed like a matter of time before something was going to happen,” Dent said.

Dent and his girlfriend were not the only ones with this type of scary experience.

“I heard something ‘boom boom,’ looked out window, the tree had fallen through my windshield and totaled my truck out,” Carolyn Rodriguez said of an incident last fall.

Rodriguez never drove her truck again.

Both renters tried to get their property management to act; in Dent’s case Revid Realty and in Rodriguez’s case MIM Property Management.

“One company says it’s not their responsibility, the other says it’s not theirs,” Dent said.

Next they called the WREG Problem Solvers. We tried contacting both owners by phone, but when we never heard back, we still knew exactly what to check based on previous Problem Solvers investigations.

We knew city code enforcement requires owners to maintain trees and cut them down if they’re dead. We took our drone to the skies above the trees and the footage showed some of the trees didn’t have leaves, meaning they were likely dead.

Next the Problem Solvers contacted Memphis Code Enforcement and asked them to inspect the trees given the evidence they’re already creating a “hazardous situation.”

As a result, inspectors issued notices warning both owners to cut down the dead trees or head to court.

A few days later, tenants said they were still waiting on action, so the Problem Solvers visited the Revid Realty office.

A receptionist provided an email address for an employee named Gus Pacente and directed inquiries to him. No one ever responded, but the next day a tree trimming crew from Michigan City, Mississippi showed up to cut the trees down.

Benton Lawn and Tree Service owner Vernon Butler confirmed to the Problem Solvers he got an urgent call the previous day. A few days later, another crew cleared out the other side, leaving behind a much-improved parking lot free of concerns about damage.

“It didn’t seem like anything got done until their hand was forced upon them,” Dent said. “Safety-wise, we’re not worried anything’s going to fall on our building anymore or on our cars.”

“Absolutely you solved the problem. I very much appreciate it. We all do,” Dent said.

If you have a tree issue around your home, follow these tips:

  • Call code enforcement to inspect the trees.
  • If parts are dead, the owner should be required to cut them down.