Where the roots of a tree causes damage to a neighbouring property the owner of the tree can be liable, under the law of nuisance, for such damage. Conflicts involving trees and neighbors are best resolved through communication, but there are laws covering these types of situations. First, it’s usually best to discuss the potential issue with your neighbor. The bids I've received to fix this problem are in the $15,000.00 range. Question: My backyard contains a big, beautiful shade tree. Most cities make it clear if trees are public or private, based on the location of the trunk. Visit your local city hall and review the city map to locate where the tree sits. not just money damages for past harm, but also some kind of abatement order or injunction to protect you against failure to prevent future damage. As mentioned in prior Articles, California law is clear that a neighbor has to act “reasonably” in trying to stop actual or potential damage from a neighbor’s trees. If your neighbor or someone else cuts down, removes, or hurts a tree on your property without your permission, that person is required to compensate you (the tree owner) for your loss. There are some things to consider if you have a problem with a tree on a shared property line: For a minor nuisance or inconvenience, the law will expect the neighbor to trim bothersome branches. If you do go onto a neighbor’s property or harm the tree, you could be liable for double or triple the value of the tree! My neighbors tree is cracking my foundation. We are a San Diego based real estate law firm. If the tree is on the property line, both property owners share the value of the tree and are responsible for upkeep on their side of the boundary line. When Neighbor’s Tree Looks Like it Could Fall Into Your Yard. I have pavers in my driveway, and his roots are coming over there, destroying my pavers. California Tree Law for Neighbors According to California law, if a tree's trunk rests solely on the property of a landowner, that person owns the tree, but if the trunk stands between two neighboring properties, then both landowners own the tree and are equally responsible for its maintenance. Roots can be very destructive, unsightly, and hazardous. Where the roots of a tree causes damage to a neighbouring property the owner of the tree can be liable, under the law of nuisance, for such damage. Our office has handled similar cases in the past and the owner of the tree is liable for the damage caused by its roots or other out-growths. Patel claimed the roots had started to damage concrete around his property. This is known as a demand letter. Attorney Whipple is quite correct. The roots have started to lift up some underground pvc water pipes and also have gone under the pool pump that sits on a small concrete slab nearby. The owner of that tree, in … Branches and roots from plants on one property that encroach on a neighbor’s property are generally considered a legal nuisance. Trimming Back Branches. 4th 1786 (1994), the plaintiff claimed his neighbor negligently cut the roots of his tree which in turn necessitated the tree's removal. The only nuisance we ever had from this tree was regarding its leaves. Removing their trees/grinding down their stumps kills their roots. At that time, the roots of the tree were pushing Johnson's patio stones upward, and the girth of the tree was causing the fence between the properties to bow inward toward his property. 15, i might as well jump on the band wagon -- a little extra -- brian's advice i have given #s of times over the past 30 years, but not only punitive damages but possibly attorney fees could be part of your judgment -- most of these can be dealt with without litigation and through their insurance companies but don't be afraid to go to court -- if you wish to contact me in the bay area i am at 510-465-6000, The Law Offices of Norman Gregory Fernandez & Associates. Patel, 24 Cal. So long as the tree trunk is wholly in the neighbor's yard, it belongs to the neighbor. While laws do vary in each state, your neighbor may be responsible for: The cost of removing or replacing the damaged tree. If the tree is inherently dangerous or poisonous. If that has happened, your neighbor could be required to remove the tree. In California, any claim up to $10,000 can be brought to small claims court. Previously to the listing, I notified the neighbors of the damage. One day the neighbor went out and cut all of the roots back to the property line and to a depth of 3 feet. Patel, Patel (the neighbor) hired a contractor to remove the roots from the large Monterey pine his neighbor (Booska) owned. who is responsible for repairs to my property? Keep in mind, many small claims judges will require proof of a demand letter before allowing the case. If the tree is causing actual damage such as roots uplifting a deck or branches pushing down a fence, the owner can be held liable for “nuisance”, that is allowing his use of his property to damage the property of another. Normally, the tree owner would be responsible to rectify the issue, but in this case, the storm drain pipe is on *my* property. In some states, certain conditions will allow a neighbor to sue: As noted above, the law regarding encroaching trees is a common-law rule; therefore, most states do not have clear ordinances or regulations for reference. While a couple of limbs or some minimal shedding may not present a problem, over time, limbs may pose a threat to the neighboring foundation, structures or debris may be clogging gutters. In the case of encroaching limbs or roots, abating the nuisance usually means that you can trim them back to the property line. Patel, Patel (the neighbor) hired a contractor to remove the roots from the large Monterey pine his neighbor (Booska) owned. Our office has handled similar cases in the past and the owner of the tree is liable for the damage caused by its roots or other out-growths. While one neighbor may be enjoying the shade provided by a beloved old tree, they may not realize that over time, branches have extended into their neighbor’s yard, and cause a property line dispute. Your property is adversely affected by the tree and can prove damages. I have a tree on my property and the roots from my tree have made their way into my neighbor's property. App. I own a 3.5 story tree that is within 15 feet of the sewer line. As a result, California law protects the affected neighbor. It’s likely he made the same assertion to the previous owner who apparently didn’t think to divulge it to you under the disclosure portion on the sales contract, possibly because he wanted to hide the fact or because it had little or no merit. Do I Need Permission to Trim Back Overhanging Branches? He refused to let me trim them to the normal 8 to 10 feet tall, while his property is already 7 feet above my property. California: Tree roots from a neighboring tree have damaged a block wall, gate and concrete at my moms house. My communications are being ignored. Crossing property lines to trim or cut down a tree is not something you or your arborist can do. If you are looking for a court to order a tree owner to trim back a tree, you will likely have to go the route of trial court, which will likely involve the use of an attorney. For instance, California Civil Code 833 and 834 states that trees whose trunks reside on the land of one owner belong to him or her exclusively, even if their roots or branches grow into the neighbor’s property. Years ago, a previous owner gave the neighbors permission to run the drain pipe on his (my) land. This website is attorney advertising: prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Learn more about this in the section on subrogation below. Patel claimed the roots had started to damage concrete around his property. A: A tree that spreads its roots onto a neighboring property, damaging the foundation of someone else’s home, is a nuisance. Removing the tree roots up to the boundary line is a reasonable course of action. Re: Neighbors tree roots causing damage by uplifting driveway. Also, the city may step in and order the owner to trim or remove the tree if the tree is in violation of a local ordinance, such as: If there is utility use around the tree, such as telephone or electric companies, they may trim a tree that may pose a threat to equipment like utility lines. If the tree is on city property, determine the department that is in charge of tree maintenance. If necessary, you can sue to enforce your rights. Speak with an experienced attorney at 70% off for 30 minutes. You must take into account the health of the tree … If you have to sue, ask your lawyer to consider causes of action on both trespass and private nuisance theories, and to ask for all appropriate remedies and relief, i.e. If the trunk of a tree is located in your neighbor’s yard, but branches extend onto your property, the neighbor is the legal owner of the tree. >> We are open during COVID-19. There are guidelines in place that will limit the amount of trimming you may perform on a neighboring tree. What rights or recourse do I have or do I have any? Second, your neighbor could be held liable for damages, according to FindLaw.Third, if your neighbor doesn’t do anything about it, the tree could be considered a nuisance, and you could file a nuisance claim, FindLaw says. Additionally, it is prudent to consult a tree trimming service before trimming a tree back. The recent case of Khan & Harrow Council & Another  (Ramsey J handed down his judgment on 3 September 2013), which concerned damage caused to a property by tree roots, considered when a person will be liable for damage caused by roots from trees on their land. When the tree trunk is divided by the property lines of two or more people, it is referred to as a "boundary tree." For instance, California Civil Code 833 and 834 states that trees whose trunks reside on the land of one owner belong to him or her exclusively, even if their roots or branches grow into the neighbor’s property. I own a 3.5 story tree that is within 15 feet of the sewer line. A: A tree that spreads its roots onto a neighboring property, damaging the foundation of someone else’s home, is a nuisance. My Neighbor's Trees Are Killing My Lawn. Ok, thank you for that additional information. Mediation can help keep costs down and avoid a lengthy lawsuit. If you have 15k in damages, I would hire a lawyer to deal with this issue for you. Here's the lowdown on what you must prove to recover for a damaged or destroyed tree, and how much money you can recover. Do you have a complicated tree law situation? Trees growing on your neighbor's side of the property lines around your home can cause problems for your lawn grass in several ways. The contractor dug a 3′ trench along the property line, effectively severing a significant portion of roots needed to survive. This is not legal advice. See the jurisdictions in which our lawyers are licensed, admitted, or otherwise authorized to practice. My neighbor's tree-roots are destroying my driveway. Do not assume that you are entitled to any compensation as a result of the complaints you have. “Trees on property lines are a common complaint between neighbors, but not so much at the courthouse,” says Cleve Clinton, partner at Gray Reed, Attorneys and Counselors, based in Dallas and Houston. He refused to let me trim them to the normal 8 to 10 feet tall, while his property is already 7 feet above my property. Keep the tone respectful and emphasize your plan to keep the tree safe and healthy, while notifying the owner how the tree’s branches or roots have impacted your property. If the tree then causes damages to a neighbor's property either from the limbs or roots, and the owner is aware of the problem, the neighbor can pursue a legal claim for damages under the doctrine of "private nuisance". I know in California, I cannot cut the roots on my side, or I will be liable if the tree falls on his property and causes any damage And, their house has been listed with an agent for sale or rent. Thank you for the information about tree law in California. Among the remedies are cutting the roots at the property line; there is a caveat that this must be done in a "non-negligent manner," which the court didn't further define, but probably would include avoiding killing the trees or causing them to be in danger of toppling in a high wind. You want to trim the offending tree branches, but the tree sits on the property line between your place and your neighbor’s. Tree limbs and roots from a neighbor's tree can grow across your common property line. There are limits, however, to how far you may trim back (see below). To remove the tree, both property owners must consent. As a neighbor and fellow property owner, it is also wise to notify the tree owner before you begin trimming the tree. No … If the tree encroaches onto the neighbor's property, the neighbor may sue to make the owner cut the branches, even if no damage has been done. When it comes to property damage from a neighbor's tree roots, the general rule is that any part of the tree encroaching onto your property is your responsibility, including maintenance. If necessary, you can sue to enforce your rights. The contractor charged over $12K to completely replace the line from the street to the house. All these trees lean over onto my property, about seventy five percent. You may need to send more than one letter should the owner continue to be uncooperative. Large fig tree growing against the fence and roots are cracking my foundation. Trimming may only occur up to the boundary line between properties. But my neighbor has several very tall trees (about 10 trees, 50 feet tall) along the border and have extended beyond required set back of the building. Learn more. Which form when adding spouse to Grant Deed I own my home as ''sole and separate... More Real Estate and Real Property questions and answers in California. 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