Post # 1
Legal Bees, can you please help me with a property law question?
My next door neighbor has a very large tree that started on her property and has grown (over probably the last 100 years) over my property line. It is a HUGE oak tree that was split at the bottom, so it had two large trunks. 4 months ago, one of the trucks fell onto my house causing $75,000 worth of damage and almost killing my rental tenants.
Well, the other trunk is leaning towards our back-yard neighbor’s house. I have had several people come to look at it, and they said it will definitely fall, it’s just a matter of time. I’ve been given an estimate of $4,000 to cut the trunk down so that it won’t hit their house when it falls.
The problem is, my neighbor has made no effort to remove the tree, even though she has claimed it as hers. Recently, she was talking to my contractor (who is repairing my house) and mentioned that she thinks I should pay 1/2 to remove it. I don’t think I should pay anything because 1) 75% of the tree is on her property line and her fence runs through it and 2) half of the tree already fell onto my house.
My neighbor has not talked to me at all about helping remove the tree. It’s been 4 months since the first one fell and every time we have a windstorm, I’m scared to death that I’m going to get a call saying the tree fell and killed my backyard neighbor.
What should I do??? Who’s liable to remove a tree that we know is dangerous? Is there any way I can make her remove it? Am I financially responsible for paying 1/2??
Here’s a a picture of my house for your reference!
Thanks in advance!
Post # 3
I am an attorney, but besides what I had to learn for passing the bar, I know nothing about property law, so I’m juts giving my opinion as to what I would do as a homeowner in this situation. I would start by getting a surveyor to come out and establish the property line. (Fences don’t establish property lines.) I would also get an official report from an arborist about the hazard the tree poses to your property. If the tree is completely on their property, then I would talk to your neighbors, show them where the property line actually is and the arborist report. This puts them on notice of the hazardous condition. Just to be extra careful, I might even mail these by certified mail with a cover letter asking the neighbor to remove the tree. If the tree stradles the property line, then I could check municipal laws (call city hall and ask). I believe that most municipalities let you cut any branches and limbs that are on your property line as long as you don’t kill the tree. Municipal laws will also establish who has the burden of removing the tree depending on what percentage of the tree is on which property. If the neighbor has to remove the tree and won’t, you can file a nuisance action I believe.
Post # 4
@Boston Bee:Thank you for this info! I did have a survey done which showed the tree is 75% on her property. I will get a report from the tree removal company who gave me the estimate for removal. I will also call city hall to ask about the municipal laws. I can’t really cut the part of the tree on my property without killing it, as the trunk grows on my property and this is the part that I am scared will fall on my back yard neighbor’s house.
Can I file a nuisance action even if it is not my house which is in danger if the tree falls?
Post # 5
@Boston Bee:I just called the city and they said they have no municipal laws concerning private property. They said it’s a civil matter and I would need to talk to a private attorney.
Um… a private attorney is the one who told me to check on the municipal laws . So I guess it’s back to square one!
Post # 6
@CanAmBride: I would find an attorney who does property law in your area. I believe that you can file a nuisance suit even if the tree won’t do damage, but again, that varies state-to-state and even city-to-city. It’s better to find someone local who deals with these types of issues all the time.