Tree Maintenance Laws

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Tree Maintenance Laws

Issues involving tree maintenance can result in serious disputes between neighbors that can sometimes require legal action. For example, a rotting tree might fall over property lines, causing serious damage. It is also common for lawsuits to result from tree obstructing a neighbor’s view.

Tree Roots and Branches

As Mother Nature has intended, trees will grow big and tall. They will not be contained within your neighbor's property. With that being said, the roots may grow long and crawl into your property.

Your rights will depend upon the laws of your particular state. Although state laws vary, the general consensus is that you may trim any encroaching branches and roots that fall onto your property. The caveat is that you are not allowed to trim the tree to the point that it harms its health. In other words, you are not allowed to destroy your neighbor's trees.

In the case where any trimming will cause damage to your neighbor's tree, you are not entitled to self-help, such that you may not trim the tree yourself. You would need your neighbor to do it. If your neighbor refuses, then you must get a court order to force your neighbor to cut his tree.

Again, depending on your state’s laws, there may be conditions as to whether you can sue your neighbor or not. Some states require the tree to cause your property serious harm before your can sue, while others merely require the tree to interfere with your use and enjoyment of the property.

Eyesores and Blocked Views

Tall trees can be a complete eyesore because they may block your view and/or natural lighting. With that said, many areas have local ordinances to limit the height of trees. If you believe your neighbor's tree is too tall, you may enforce your local ordinance and have your neighbor trim his trim.

Who Pays for the Costs?

Generally, the owner of the tree is liable for the maintenance and upkeep of his tree. Thus, your neighbor will most likely be responsible to pay for any trimming and removal costs.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If your neighbor tree's is disturbing your property and your neighbor is unwilling to alleviate the issues, then you should contact a real estate lawyer. The lawyer will help your file the appropriate court documents to force your neighbor to trim or remove his tree. Furthermore, a real estate lawyer will help ensure that your neighbor will pay his tree maintenance.

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Last Modified: 12-10-2015 03:26 PM PST

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