What can happen if I asked a neighbor if I could trim a couple of limbs hanging over my property line and she said OK but now she is up set because the tree looks, “out of balance”?

Asked on July 31, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

This is her tree, correct? And she voluntarily agreed to let you trim it, correct? In that case, nothing can happen but hurt feelings and a possibly hurt relationship with the neighbor: you have no obligations or liability for what she voluntarily agreed to do or let you do, even at your request, to her tree, so long as you did not give her any guaranty or warranty, did not lie or misprepresent your skill or ability (e.g. you didn't claim to have experience or training which you lack), and did not deliberately or negligently (*unreasonably* carelessly--the tree-trimming equivalent of DUI or texting while driving) damage the tree--that is, the mere fact that she does not like how it came out does not impose any liability on you. That said, it may be the better part of valor to offer her some compensation--maybe to pay for, or at least contribute to, a tree service to "clean up" the tree--since unless you or she are moving soon, you will be neighbors for a long time; and speaking as someone who had a long-running dispute with his neighbors once, I can tell you that bad blood with your neighbors is something to be avoided. However, doing this would be your choice; based on what you write, she does not appear to have any valid or enforceable claim against you.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

This is her tree, correct? And she voluntarily agreed to let you trim it, correct? In that case, nothing can happen but hurt feelings and a possibly hurt relationship with the neighbor: you have no obligations or liability for what she voluntarily agreed to do or let you do, even at your request, to her tree, so long as you did not give her any guaranty or warranty, did not lie or misprepresent your skill or ability (e.g. you didn't claim to have experience or training which you lack), and did not deliberately or negligently (*unreasonably* carelessly--the tree-trimming equivalent of DUI or texting while driving) damage the tree--that is, the mere fact that she does not like how it came out does not impose any liability on you. That said, it may be the better part of valor to offer her some compensation--maybe to pay for, or at least contribute to, a tree service to "clean up" the tree--since unless you or she are moving soon, you will be neighbors for a long time; and speaking as someone who had a long-running dispute with his neighbors once, I can tell you that bad blood with your neighbors is something to be avoided. However, doing this would be your choice; based on what you write, she does not appear to have any valid or enforceable claim against you.


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