Tree Disputes with Neighbors FAQ

Who owns the tree if most of a big tree is hanging over my yard, but the trunk is on my neighbor’s property?

The tree is your neighbor’s. The law states that if the trunk of a tree stands on one person’s property, the tree is his or hers. The case of a boundary tree happens if the trunk stands partly on the property of more than two people, it belongs to all of them. All owners should take responsibility for taking care of the tree.

Am I entitled to compensation for the tree that my neighbor killed?

Yes, because whoever cuts, eliminates, or harms a tree without consent from the owner should compensate for the damaged caused by the action.

What should I do if my neighbor’s tree seems like it is about to fall on my property?

Most often than not, local governments take responsibility to take down the dangerous tree. But you can also trim the branches that are hanging over your property. Some city ordinances don’t allow homeowners to keep hazardous trees in their yard. This ordinance can require the owner to get rid of the tree or pay a fine.

If the roots of my trees spread to my neighbor’s property, will I be responsible for the damages it caused?

The answer to this question depends on the state where you live. Generally, your neighbor will not be able to sue you. Instead, he can trim the tree. However, there are states where you can be sued if the situation satisfies certain conditions such as when the tree invades your neighbor’s property. The case might be a success if your tree causes significant damage to your neighbor’s property.   More information can be found here.

The branches of my neighbor’s tree hang over my land, can I trim them off?

Yes. It is legal for you to trim the branches that go beyond your property line. However, you cannot go inside your neighbor’s property or kill the tree in any way.  In most states, anyone who deliberately harms someone else’s tree is responsible for twice or thrice the actual monetary loss caused by the action.

If my neighbors complain that my tree is excessively tall, am I required to trim it?

This is a very common issue among neighbors. The best thing to avoid disputes is to talk with your neighbors to be on the same page when it comes to how much trimming is necessary to solve the issue. Sometimes, a calm conversation is all it takes to handle the situation. If the trimming does not affect the health of the tree, by all means, do it. But don’t do it if there are risks involved, instead, contact a professional tree service to make sure the job is done safely.

If you don’t want your tree to be trimmed because it might lose it’s aesthetic, make sure to check your local tree ordinance. If your tree poses a hazard, you might be violating the law and needs to be trimmed or removed right away.

For more information about law related to tree dispute among property owners, please click here.