What is a neighbor’s obligation to trim their tree if it will cause damage to your property?

I recently moved into a my new townhome. When I had my home inspected the inspector pointed out that a tree from the condominum on the other side of the fence is affecting my gutter and could damage my roof. I spoke with their property management and the lady said it wasn’t their problem and that we have to deal with it. By law are they responsible to trim back the tree?

Asked on September 6, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The law does not affirmatively require them to trim the tree--i.e., they can risk liability (see below) if they choose.

If after warning or notice of a hazard they refuse to take reasonable steps to correct that hazard (e.g. trim the tree), they could be liable for any damage the tree causes--so, for example, if the  tree damages your roof, you could sue them for compensation.


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