Trees are a lovely addition to the landscape. They not only improve the curb appeal and value of your property, but they also provide habitat for songbirds and other wildlife. Even in their glory, trees can be a source of contention with neighbors. A tree that sheds leaves and drops debris on your perfectly manicured lawn can also be a nuisance.
This guide is for you if your neighbor’s trees are getting on your nerves and you feel helpless. Let’s look at how to deal with tree-related disputes between neighbors, such as how trees affect property lines and who has the right to trim branches that grow on their property.
Is It OK to Trim a Neighbor’s Tree Branches Hanging Over My Yard?
Yes. You have the legal right to trim tree limbs and branches that extend beyond your property line. However, you are not permitted to enter your neighbor’s property or destroy the tree. By law, you are only permitted to trim and prune branches up to the property line. Some states allow tree owners to sue for punitive damages, particularly if the person who caused the tree damage acted maliciously.
The same is true for a boundary tree that is partially on the property of two or more people. You can only cut the tree if all of the property owners agree. Otherwise, if you damage the tree, you could be held liable for up to three times the tree’s value. Most trees have a replacement value of $500 to $2,500. The cost of a landmark or ornamental tree can range from $20,000 to $60,000.
What to Do If a Neighbor’s Tree Is Affecting You?
Before taking action if your neighbor’s tree is causing you problems, it is critical that you understand your rights and responsibilities. The following are the steps you should take to resolve this problem.
Talk with the tree owner
When a neighbor’s tree causes you grief, the last thing you should do is go over to their property and cut it down. It is not your responsibility to cut down a tree trunk in your neighbor’s yard. As previously stated, you may be subject to significant fines.
Instead, the best course of action is to try to talk it out with your neighbor. Discuss your concerns and explain why the tree may need to be removed, especially if it is leaning, has visible wounds, is old, or has a hollow trunk.
Note: If your current neighbor is renting, you should contact the landlord about your concerns.
Schedule a professional tree inspection
After speaking with your neighbor, you may request that they hire an ISA-certified arborist to advise them on the best course of action. If you are unable to attend the inspection, you may request that a list of questions be prepared for the arborist. You can also ask the arborist for a report on the inspection’s findings.
If your neighbor agrees after the inspection, you are good to go. If they refuse to have a tree inspected or follow the arborist’s recommendations, proceed to the next step.
Write a letter
If your neighbor does not cooperate after the conversation, send them an email or letter outlining your concerns about the tree, as well as any legal action you may take if it harms anyone or damages your property. Make a backup copy for your records.
In the event of damage, this letter demonstrates that the tree was in a hazardous condition and that your neighbor was careless. They would not have been liable for the damage if they had taken proper care of the tree.
Take legal action
If your neighbor does not remove the dangerous tree despite receiving the letter, you may want to consult with a lawyer. A lawyer will explain your rights and the best course of action.
Landowners are responsible for the care and upkeep of any trees on their property. Landowners are required by law to inspect their trees on a regular basis to ensure that they are safe and do not pose a threat to the public.
If a neighbor’s tree looks like it wants to fall on your property, and they do not take the necessary precautions, they may be held liable for any damage it causes. You have the legal right to sue such neighbors.
File a nuisance claim
If a neighbor’s tree interferes with your property’s use and enjoyment, you may file a nuisance claim. If the court rules that your claim is valid, it may order its dismissal.
Report to the municipality
If a tree is a hazard to your safety, you can report it to the municipality, which will either have it removed or order your neighbor to do so. Most cities prohibit property owners from keeping dangerous conditions, even on private property, and may even remove such a tree themselves.
Get help from a utility company
If a neighbor’s tree threatens a utility company’s equipment, you may be able to get assistance from them. A phone company, for example, can trim branches that hang over their lines. They may even cut down the tree.
If your neighbor ignores your concerns and the tree eventually falls on your house or injures someone, you should photograph the injuries or damage. Photograph the tree and the damage it caused to your property in great detail.
These photos will be useful if you decide to file a lawsuit against your neighbor for property damage.
Also, after the property damage incident, contact your homeowner’s insurance company right away to find out what to do next.
Need Professional Tree Trimming or Removal Services in Southington, CT?
We are a team of highly trained and experienced arborists, horticulturists, and tree care professionals at USA Tree Experts. We are dedicated to providing you with comprehensive tree services that are tailored to your specific requirements. Our decades of industry experience allow us to keep your trees lush and healthy while ensuring the safety of you and your neighbors. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our certified arborists and tree care professionals.