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Tree troubles

June 13, 2024

Just when you thought you'd conquered all the challenges of owning a home, a BIG branch breaks out of that beautiful oak tree in the backyard....and falls on your neighbor's side of the fence. Uh oh!!

The responsibility for overhanging trees and the associated legal obligations can vary depending on the jurisdiction and local laws. However, we can provide you with some general insights that might help you understand the common principles and options for resolving such situations.

1. Ownership and Responsibility: In most cases, if a tree is rooted in your yard, you are considered the legal owner of the tree and therefore responsible for its maintenance. This includes the branches and any potential damage they may cause when they extend into your neighbor's property.

2. Neighbor's Rights: Your neighbors have the right to trim the branches of the tree that overhang into their yard, up to the property line. However, they must exercise this right reasonably and avoid causing unnecessary harm or damage to the tree. They generally don't have the right to enter your property without permission to trim the tree themselves.

3. Communication and Cooperation: The best approach is to maintain a positive relationship with your neighbors and address the issue amicably. Openly discuss the situation and mutually agree on a solution that works for both parties. This may involve trimming the branches, removing the overhanging parts, or even removing the tree if necessary.

4. Professional Mediation: If you and your neighbor cannot reach an agreement, you may consider involving a professional mediator or arbiter to help facilitate the discussion and find a resolution that both parties can accept. They can provide an unbiased perspective and suggest compromises.

5. Local Laws and Ordinances: It's important to consult local laws and ordinances, as they may provide specific guidelines on the maintenance of trees and the responsibilities of property owners. Some areas have regulations that dictate the height, size, or type of trees that can be planted near property lines, so familiarize yourself with any applicable laws in your jurisdiction.

6. Legal Recourse: If all attempts at resolution fail, you may need to seek legal recourse. In some cases, your neighbor might sue you for damages caused by the overhanging tree. Conversely, you might also consider legal action if your neighbor damages or removes the tree in an unreasonable manner. Consulting a lawyer specializing in property disputes will provide you with guidance specific to your situation.

Remember, the specifics of tree-related responsibilities and laws can differ depending on your location, so it's crucial to research local regulations or consult legal professionals to get accurate advice tailored to your area. There are many great arbor services who would be happy to share information...and a business card for future services too!

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