How Boundary Trees Can Cause Problems Between Neighbors

Posted on

Trees, especially those growing between neighboring homes, often cause great controversies between neighbors. What's more, many neighbors don't know what they can legally do in such situations. Here are a few examples of tree-related disputes, and your possible legal rights in those cases:

Tree Falls onNeighbor's Property

If your tree falls on your neighbor's car or house, then the cause of the fall determines who pays for the damage. You won't be held responsible if the tree was toppled by an act of God; for example, if the damage occurs during a freak thunderstorm. In such a case, your neighbor (though their insurance) pays for the damage. However, you will be held responsible for damages you could have prevented. For example, you may be tasked with paying for the damage if the tree was rotten and you had been advised several times to cut it down. You may also be responsible for the damage if you were careless when cutting down a tree and it ends up falling on the neighbor's house.

Tree Litters Neighbors Compound

Tree leaves, flowers, seeds or even small twigs routinely fall. This debris can cause considerable litter on a neighbor's compound. However, they are considered a natural occurrence, and the neighbor can't sue you for the removal of the litter; they have to pay for it from their own pockets.

Tree Blocks Neighbors View

You can't do anything (except maybe talk to your neighbor) to your neighbor's tree that is blocking your view as long as the trees are growing on their side of the boundary. You neighbor can have as many trees as possible, and they can let the trees grow as big as they like. The only exception is if there is a local zoning regulation or ordinance that the trees are violating; in that case, you can seek redress as outlined in the ordinance.

Tree Root Caused Damage to Neighbors Property

A tree doesn't have to fall to cause damage to your neighbor's side of the fence; tree roots know no boundaries and can also cause damage. States have varied laws on this issue so you should seek guidance from your state's laws. In some states, your neighbor can sue you for the damage while in others it's up to your neighbor to trim the roots so that they don't cause damage.

As you can see, the laws are many and varied when it comes to tree damage and obstructions. This means you shouldn't take any measures without confirming that it's in agreement with your local laws. A  lawyer can help you navigate the legal landscape.