Tree root dispute

We contacted our neighbors to let them know that we will replacing the fence between us to because our tree root has pushed it up. They then show me that same tree root has grown across their yard, visiblyabout 20 feet, and has damage their irrigation system. I asked why they never told of this tree root growing across their yard and said it didn’t matter till the irrigation stop working. Are we responsible for the damage?

Asked on March 26, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Arizona


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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The general rule is that any part of your tree that encroaches onto your neighbor's property is their responsibility, absent some sort of negligence on your part. As such, they cannot hold you liable for any damage caused by the tree (its branches or roots). Accordingy, they should be able to put a claim in on their homeowner's insurance policy.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You generally would not be responsible unless you had previously had some warning, notice, or other reason to know of a risk or threat; if you had, and you failed to take reasonable steps (e.g. cutting the root) to prevent damage, then you could be held liable based on your negligence, or unreasonable careless, in not addressing a known problem. But without some reason to know of the problem, you would have had no reason to take action: therefore, you would not have been negligent and should not be liable.

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