Conflicts Involving Tree Removal and Neighbors

Trees can provide your property with shade during summer and also provide a sanctuary for songbirds and overall beauty. However, they can also cause tension between neighbors if not maintained in a proper manner, spill debris on the fence or cause problems. Although neighbors and trees are sometimes an uneasy combination, particularly between neighbors who typically don’t have a good relationship, it’s vital to be aware of your rights and responsibilities prior to taking drastic steps.

Below are the responses to frequently asked questions on conflicts between neighbors and trees, which includes the rights to trim branches that extend into the neighboring property and how trees are connected to (and often determine) the boundaries between property.

If the branches of a neighbor’s tree are hanging over my property Can I cut them down?

Yes. As per law, you have the right to cut branches and limbs which extend beyond your boundary of your property. The law, however, restricts trimming trees and cutting them until the boundary of your property. It is not permitted to go onto the neighbor’s property , or even cut the tree. If you damage or damage the trees, then you may be held accountable for three times the cost that the tree has. The majority of trees have a value between $500 and $2500. Ornamental or landmark trees could be worth between $20,000 to $60,000.

If my neighbor has the fruit tree, and its branches are hanging above my home, am I able to consume the fruit?

No. The fruit from the tree belongs to the person who owns the tree, therefore avoid picking any fruits. The courts are divided over what is allowed to fall fruits, however, look up your local laws to determine whether you are allowed to eat fruits that fall off the tree.

If the leaves of my neighbor keep flying into my yard can I make a nuisance claim?

No. Leaves are considered to be a natural product. Even if they cause harm, such as the clogging of your pipes or gutters there are no legal rights against the owner of the tree.

If, however, the tree branches that are shedding the leaves are hanging over your yard, or the tree trunk is encroaching onto the property of yours, you are entitled to the right to trim those branches until they reach the property boundary.

The majority of a huge tree is atop my property, but the trunk is located in the yard of a neighbor. Who is the owner of the tree?

The neighbor is the owner. As long as the tree’s remains located in the neighbor’s backyard it belongs to the neighbor.

If the trunk of a tree is divided between the property lines of more than two people the tree is referred to as “boundary tree. “boundary tree.” When it comes to “boundary trees, “boundary tree,” all of the property owners are owners of the tree and share the responsibility for its care. Tree removal that is not with the consent of all property owners is illegal.

My neighbor excavated his property and killed a tree across my property line. Do I have a right to an amount of compensation?

Anyone who participates in tree removal, tree cutting or injuring the tree without owner’s consent is responsible to compensate the owner of the tree.

A storm ripped down the neighbor’s tree’s limb onto my property, causing damage to my car, house, and yard furniture. Is he accountable for the damage?

The court is likely to apply the fair care requirement. If the neighbor took reasonable care in maintaining the tree’s branch and the branch did not appear to anyone who is reasonable to be in danger of falling and fall, then it probably wasn’t. If an intelligent person could not have prevented this happening or in other way it’s deemed to be to be an “Act of God,” and the neighbor will not be responsible.

On the other hand when the tree was not properly maintained and your neighbor was aware or ought to have realized whether the trees or their branches could pose risk, the neighbor could be held responsible for any damages he that were caused.

My neighbor’s tree appears like it’s about to fall over my house. What can I do?

The landowner is responsible for maintaining the trees that are on their property. Legally, they are required to perform two responsibilities: conduct reasonable inspections and make sure the tree is secure. If your neighbor fails to remove the dangerous tree and the tree does cause harm, the neighbor could be held accountable.

If you’ve spoken with your neighbor regarding the issue with the tree, but the neighbor hasn’t taken any action about it, you are protected by laws to will protect you. The tree could constitute an annoyance in that it interferes in your use and enjoyment of your property. You can submit a nuisance complaint, and if a judge finds that the real cause is in fact a problem, it could require the tree to be to be removed.

The majority of cities have ordinances that ban homeowners from maintaining dangerous situations on their land. If you contact your city they can either remove the tree on their own or ask your neighbor to remove it.

Utility companies could be interested in the removal of the tree if the tree’s condition is threatening any of their equipment or creates an hazard to fire. A simple phone call to a utility firm could lead them to remove the tree by themselves.

The spread of tree roots across my property caused damage to my neighbor’s septic tank/swimming pool. Do I have to pay my neighbors?

In many states, the neighbor who is causing trouble is able to participate in pruning of the tree or cutting it her own, but she isn’t able to assert a claim against the owner of the tree. Some states allow neighbors can sue if the following conditions are satisfied:

  • In the event of damage to property, a property owner can sue her neighbor to have the neighbor remove the branches that block the property of the landowner.
  • A serious injury caused by tree limbs that are encroaching or tree roots can cause a lawsuit. “Serious harm” usually requires structural damage.
  • If an overlying tree was planted but not natural, the neighbor could be able to sue.
  • A neighbor can only be sued only if the tree is considered to be noxious. “Noxious” means that the tree must be intrinsically hazardous or poisonous, and the tree must cause harm.