tree encroachment

What legal rights do I have, to have the nabors remove some
large trees that are encroaching my property and leaning over
my garage these trees are over 40 ft tall, also they are
shading my garage so it will rot the roof and walls..

Asked on June 17, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The majority of state courts hold that if the roots/tree trunks of a neighborr's tree damages your home, outbuildings or driveway then you can sue your neighbr to recover damage that has already been done. Unfortunately, you cannot bring suit for any potential damages that may occur at some future time. That having been said, a few courts have held that such an "encroachment" can be remedied by requiring your neighbor to remove the tree. The law on this kind of thing varies from state to state. Also, you can contact your town and report the trees as a safety hazard. If the town agrees, then by virtue of it's enforcement powers it can order the removal/trimming of such a hazard. Additionally, it these trees pose a potential threat to any utilities, such as power lines on your property, the utility company has the right to remove/trim the trees (and possibly at your neighbor's expense). At this point, you may want to consider consulting directly with a local real estate attorney about your situation.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If by "encroaching," you mean that the roots or tree trunks have pushed into your property and  are causing physical damage (e.g. displacing a fence, cracking a driveway or foundation, etc.), you can require them to remove the offending tree at their expense and to pay for any damage already done; you'd have to sue them for this, if they don't voluntarily do so. But you cannot force someone to remove a tree just because it overhands or shades your property, and there is no remedy for "rot" caused by shade or dripping water. There are some things--like shade from neighbors' trees--that are just a normal incident of life in a community or neighborhood, and the law does not provide remedies for them.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.