Boundary Disputes: Trees
Trees protruding onto your property can cause undue stress and arguments between neighbors. The general rule is that if a neighbor's tree is causing actual problems with your property, or interfering with the use of your property, then you have certain rights as to that intrusion. Most states' laws place the burden and expense of properly pruning trees on the landowner on whose property the tree exists. You must be sure that the tree is not on your property, even if it is on the other side of a fence or other obstruction. Have a survey performed, to make sure you do not own the tree.
- Start with a letter to your neighbor about the tree that is intruding on your property.
- Be specific and polite
- You cannot force a neighbor to cut down an entire tree because of one branch
- Give your neighbor a reasonable amount of time to correct the problem
- If the first letter is ignored, send a second letter.
- Attach a copy of the first letter, just in case your neighbor did not receive it
- Inform the neighbor that you will hire a company to correct the problem
- Enclose any estimates from the company
- Inform the neighbor that you will seek to recover the costs of repairs if they do not comply
- Send a demand letter with a copy of the bill to the neighbor for payment.
- Once the work is performed by one of the companies you stated in your second letter, send a letter requesting the neighbor pay for the work
- Include a copy of the bill
- A second demand letter should be sent if the first demand letter is ignored
- Attach the first letter and the bill
- Remember, you are responsible to pay the company that performed the work even if the neighbor does not pay you back
- State that you will take legal action after a reasonable amount of time if you decide to sue
If you decide to sue and you fall under the jurisdictional limits of your Small Claims Court, you can follow the procedures and file a lawsuit against your neighbor. Your letters will be good evidence to support your claim. See our section about Small Claims Court for more information, or feel free to contact your Plan Attorney!