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Living in a neighborhood with many trees can be a big selling point for future homeowners. It can also cause potential problems between property owners. Having a tree on your property is a larger responsibility than many people realize and keeping up with that kind of maintenance isn’t always taken seriously. For this reason, many people find themselves in an awkward position where a neighbor’s tree is damaging their property—or vice versa.

Learning that a neighbor’s tree is or could potentially cause damage to your property can be a discouraging discovery. If you find yourself in this situation, know that it’s best to stay calm and do your research. Mr. Tree and other professionals are able to safely assist you with things like pruning when needed and can be a big help in avoiding any further or more serious damage. If you find yourself in this situation, these few pieces of advice could help guide you through it.

Property ownership and trees

Know About Ownership Laws

Depending on the circumstances, there are a few things that you can do to help prevent a neighbor’s tree from further damaging your property. This includes taking matters into your own hands for the pieces of the tree that are over the property line. Though this can be an easy solution to your problems, not doing things the right and legal way could end up costing you big time. Before any cutting, trimming, or professional tree services are scheduled, you should know what you’re allowed to legally do on your own to rectify the problem.

One of the most important things to know about a tree is that wherever the trunk resides is who the ownership of the tree resides with. That means if the trunk is on your neighbor’s property line, the tree legally belongs to your neighbor, and you are not able to cut it down or damage it without facing consequences. The rules change if the trunk is split between the two properties. If any part of the trunk of the tree in question is on your property, you then have some rights over what happens to it and also some of the responsibility for any damage caused.

Snow covered branches

What About Branches?

Ownership is determined by where the trunk resides, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have some control over other parts of the tree. There are parts of the tree that you are legally able to get rid of even if the trunk is not on your property line. If there are branches that go over the property line and are hanging over your property, you have the right to trim them if they’re the cause of damage to your property.

As far as things like leaves and acorns falling into your yard from a neighbor’s tree go, they don’t usually count as damage. They may be a nuisance, but they’re considered natural occurrences, as are branches that were undamaged before but fall into your yard after a storm. Those things are considered out of the control of the tree owner, and the damage that they inflict will typically be the responsibility of the yard owner to correct.

Another important thing to know is that even if a fruit tree’s branches are hanging over your property, you are not allowed to pick that fruit. It may be tempting to grab a delicious apple off a branch hanging in your yard, but that apple legally belongs to the tree owner, so grabbing it may not be the best idea unless you’ve already come to an arrangement with your neighbor. As far as fallen fruit goes, you’ll have to look into your specific state and local laws for who is responsible for that cleanup/damage.

Regardless of how much or what kind of damage is done to your yard from a neighbor’s tree, it’s best to cover all of your bases before taking any action. Before you make any moves that you’re unsure of, you may want to contact legal professionals to ensure that you don’t accidentally break any laws.

Neighbors talking it out

Go to Them with the Problem

After learning about your rights, the next step you should take when a neighbor’s tree is damaging your property is speaking with them about the issue. In most cases, a neighbor will understand if their tree is causing you or your property any grief, and they’ll do their best to amend the issue. Though this may not always be the case and can be an awkward subject to bring up, you’d be surprised at how many people are willing to accommodate their neighbors to help keep the peace. Go to them calmly and explain in clear language how their tree is causing your property damage.

Tree trimming with a chainsaw.

Offer a Solution

When you approach your neighbor about their tree, it’s a good idea to also offer them a solution. Not everyone is well-versed in tree maintenance, and they may feel like they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to figuring out how to accommodate you. Offering them the contact information of your local arborists can make it easier for your neighbor and make them more inclined to move forward with correcting any issues. It can also discourage them from trying to fix any big issues on their own, which can cause even further damage or injury to themselves and others.

If the tree causing the damage is severely damaged itself, it may be at risk of falling, which can not only damage property but potentially harm the people living on and around the property. If this is the case, professionals like Mr. Tree can safely remove the tree from the property and trim down any remaining stump so that your neighbor is left with a smooth, leveled-out surface.

Mr. Tree is also able to provide trimming and pruning services, which can significantly decrease the risk of damage to both your property and the owner’s. Having the necessary contact information can make it more appealing for your neighbor to help solve your problems.