Can I trim my neighbor’s tree?

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11/18/2014 | Author: Legal Staff

Branches from a tree in my neighbor’s yard hang over our shared fence. These branches hang low and block a walkway on the side of my garage. Can I trim the branches back to the property line?

You have the right to remove the over-hanging branches, but that doesn’t mean you should run outside with your saw. If you damage the tree or violate any local ordinances regarding tree trimming and limb removal, you could find yourself liable for damages or facing fines.

Start by talking to your neighbor about the branches, and get his agreement on how you’ll trim the tree. Also, check with your city about any restrictions on pruning trees.

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Categories: Homeowners
Tags: trees, homeowners, legal


Leonard DeBono on 12/17/2014

Typically not unless as David said the owner of the tree was notified of an unsafe condition and they chose not to correct it.  Owners have every right to take care of their own property and will assume liability if a dangerous condition causes damage on their own property.  That is what insurance is for.  Definitely want to try and be good neighbors and cooperate, but permission to trim on your side of fence is not required.

David Hageman on 12/17/2014

Cindi - No they do not have liability… UNLESS the tree is dying or in some other danger of falling AND even in that case you must have notified the tree owner in writing that you consider the tree to be a danger. I had a neighbor’s tree fall into my home, causing $70K in damages and it was all on me. Shortly after I wrote him a certified letter explaining the nightly one hour plus watering was damaging the trees and making them a danger to neighbors. The over watering stopped but the insurance deductible and claim were all mine.

Cindi Bulla on 12/16/2014

Does the owner of the tree (or property manager)have any potential liability to the neighbor for personal or property damage caused by overhanging limbs?

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The material provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice for your particular matter. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Applicability of the legal principles discussed in this material may differ substantially in individual situations.

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