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Legal question - Who's responsible for tree branches overhanging a lot line?

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Poiuyt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-23-07 12:05 PM
Original message
Legal question - Who's responsible for tree branches overhanging a lot line?
Edited on Thu Aug-23-07 12:10 PM by Poiuyt
I have a large tree in my backyard with some branches overhanging my neighbors yard. He came over the other day and said that some of the branches were interfering with his smaller ornamental tree and asked if I would take care of it (on his side of the boundary). I said that I would and got an estimate, but it came in at $750. That's more than I can afford, so I decided to do it myself. I haven't gotten to it yet (it's been about two or three weeks) and today he slipped a note in my mailbox saying that if I don't take care of it, he will hire a tree service and do it himself.

It's always been my understanding that he would have the legal right to trim any branches up to the lot line and I have no problem with that. My question is, who would be responsible for paying to have the work done?
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skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-23-07 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
1. I believe it depends on the laws in your area
Maybe check with your local town offices and see if they can tell you anything - if nothing else, they could tell you where to look for the laws.

But why not just get out there and cut it. Save yourself some friction with your neighbor.
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Poiuyt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-23-07 08:10 PM
Response to Reply #1
10. I definitely want to have good relations with my neighbor
but doing it myself will be difficult and dangerous (it's a big tree).
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Lex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-23-07 12:11 PM
Response to Original message
2. Any part of the tree that overhangs his lot, he can cut & is responsible for.
Edited on Thu Aug-23-07 12:12 PM by Lex

At least in my state (NC). He is responsible for the maintenance of what's above his property line, so to speak.



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flvegan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-23-07 12:13 PM
Response to Original message
3. In Florida, lot lines include airspace (and sometimes subterranean space)
If he wanted to cut them, he could. It's always suggested that the tree owner maintain the tree for liability (if he cuts your tree and it somehow dies, he could be liable). Also, if your tree's limb fell and damaged his property, that could be another legal issue.
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Nicholas D Wolfwood Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-23-07 12:13 PM
Response to Original message
4. Probably you.
The tree itself is on your lot, meaning you own the tree. Meaning you own whatever the tree does if you're negligent in caring for it.
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Lex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-23-07 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. But the neighbor is responsible for what overhangs into his yard.
Any part of my neighbor's trees or vines or shrubs that overspill into my yard, I can trim or cut back as I see fit. It is part of MY own yard maintenance.

That is for here in NC.

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skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-23-07 12:17 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. This is why the OP needs to check the local ordinances
Laws are not the same everywhere and its good to know exactly where one stands.
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Lex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-23-07 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Yes
Edited on Thu Aug-23-07 12:18 PM by Lex
that's precisely why I pointed out twice that what I said only applied for my state.

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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-26-07 05:17 PM
Response to Reply #4
13. no one owns a tree for insurance purposes
victim of a tree fall costing my insurer, not the owner of the lot where the tree was standing, a whopping mid five figures -- and my insurer didn't quibble or concern themselves with who owned the tree, altho it clearly fell from another yard

it's just the way it is, "no one owns a tree"

i think otherwise no homeowner's insurance co. would allow anyone to have a tree, because of the liability

if the neighbor wants to cut the branches overhanging his yard, he is free to do so

he is free to send you the bill -- and you are free to ignore the bill

he ordered it done, he's got to pay it

of course always check a local attorney for legal advice before following instructions rec'd from invisible friends on the internets
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seemunkee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-23-07 12:29 PM
Response to Original message
8. Your neighbor can trim the limbs
As long as they do not do any damage that might kill the tree.
At least that is the way things are around here. I have pine trees that outline my backyard and the neighbors trim what they want on their side of the fence.
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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-23-07 12:38 PM
Response to Original message
9. You're responsible for your tree, but neighbors are allowed to mitigate a nuisance.
As flvegan noted, in some states the neighbor has the legal responsibility to limit pruning so as not to undermine the tree's viability but that's not true in all states. Some states also have specific rules about boundary trees too.

The best way to answer your question is to find out how the responsibilities are spelled out in your state or local nuisance abatement laws.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-23-07 08:16 PM
Response to Original message
11. Ask your question here (bonus kudzu info):
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WFF Donating Member (277 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-26-07 05:09 PM
Response to Original message
12. I have a similar situation here
I'm trying to rig my own pole saw, but it's a little too unwieldy.
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treestar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-26-07 05:59 PM
Response to Original message
14. Only the state law has the answer, unfortunately
A lawyer would charge for his or her time to figure it out.

You could look at the state's civil code under premises liability and it might lead you to something. Use the annotated code.

Maybe go to the law library and some law student might be willing to look it up for you.

Tell us what state it is, and maybe we can find something online.

The city might have ordinances, too. (Or the township, or the county or whatever it is called.)
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Poiuyt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-26-07 06:59 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. I'm in Wisconsin
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Lionel Mandrake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-26-07 09:34 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. If you live in a city (as most people do),
then you can probably get an answer from city hall. After you find out what the law is, you will be in a better position to discuss the situation with your neighbor. I'll bet your neighbor doesn't know the law, either.
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Bjornsdotter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-26-07 09:41 PM
Response to Reply #16
19. Call your township


...my parents have a house in Wisconsin, that's what they do whenever they have these types of questions.

Cheers
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KinkyDem Donating Member (748 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-26-07 06:48 PM
Response to Original message
15. DO NOT TAKE LEGAL ADVICE FROM THE INTERNET
Read a book!

Nieghbor Law
Published by No-Lo press

Check your local library.
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ashling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-26-07 08:08 PM
Response to Original message
17. I think that there should be
checks and balances between the branches
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