Am I Allowed To Trim My Neighbors Tree If It Hangs Over My Property Line?

Video Summary

Am I allowed to trim my neighbor's tree that hangs over the property line? The answer to the question is yes, you own from your property line to the center of the earth to the heavens, and so if your neighbor's limbs or tree hangs over your property line, well, yes you can. Now the only caveat to that is that you can't go over on his property to do the trimming, because that would be trespassing, but as long as you can trim it in your side of the fence, or your side of the property line, well, that works just fine. The question I get most of the time, however, is not that whether or not you can trim the tree, is whether or not you can make your neighbor trim his tree that's hanging over your property line and dropping leaves or pine needles, or debris on your pool enclosure, or on your lot, or gets overgrown, and is sort of impairing your use of your property?

I have a standard response to either of these questions, which sometimes begs the question is, is I suggest you maybe talk to your neighbor about it, and ask him if he wouldn't mind trimming the tree, or taking care of this, because of your problem. Well, usually when I give that sage advice is, "I've been there and done that. Unfortunately the neighbor is not very receptive," and I clean that up substantially, as far as that suggestion is concerned, and has pretty well told me to take a long walk off a short pier, and so we don't, we're not making much progress. I tell them, "Well, you're not in a position to do much other than take care of the problem yourself." If they had bushes or whatever, you might let them know that whenever you do the trimming, it isn't pretty, so that they just need to be aware.

If they want to take care of it, fine, but if you have to do it at your expense, well, it's going to be fairly efficient as far as that concern. They say, "Well, can I sue him or whatever?" The answer to that is is, "Well, yes, but that's not a very practical remedy, and that landscape guys are a lot cheaper than lawyers, so you could possibly sue your neighbor for nuisance if this continues to drop debris on your side of the property, but by the time you got done doing that with the lawyer, well, you could have probably had a lifetime of maintenance as far as cleaning the property up, and taking care of a matter yourself."

One other thing as far as trees are concerned is what happens if your neighbor has a tree on his property, storm comes along, blows the tree over onto your property, or it blows it over on your house, or damages your property? Is the neighbor liable? The answer is no, he isn't liable because it's an act of God, and so you have to rely upon your own insurance, and oh, by the way, the insurance company isn't going to pay to have a two year old oak tree hauled out of your back yard, so it's always good to have good relationship with your neighbor, if that's at all possible. Now there is an exception to the tree blowing over, is if the tree is diseased or it's rotted or decayed, you need to put your neighbor on notice if he's not taking care of matters.

Let him know that he's being negligent and not maintaining the tree, and if it does blow over on your property, that he will be responsible for your damages, so you would have a cause of action against him for your expenses, which would probably in small claims, up to $5,000, but you should send him a little letter or a notice that's saying, "Look, you need to take care of that tree. It's dead. We have a bad windstorm, I'm concerned it'll blow over on my property, and damage my house, or cause me to have to clean up, and so we'll look to you to take care of the matter." Hopefully, you don't have any problems with your neighbor. Probably you don't have a good legal solution, but if you do have some questions about real property, give me a call at 727-847-2288.