What to do about tree roots along my property line that ar causing damage?

My neighbor has 3 large trees along our property line. The roots have upended my pavers in my yard. I would like to cut the roots but I am afraid the tree may die. My neighbor has told me to “just cut the roots”. What is my liability if I cut the roots and the tree died? And even worse, falls over and causes bodily injury or property damage?

Asked on July 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A neighbor is responsible for damage that their tree does if they have notice or warning of the damage. If you have provided notice to the neighbor and they have not done anything about it, you could sue them. Basically, you would seek a court order requiring that the roots be cut or tree taken down; you could also possibly seek compensation for the damage that has already done.

The fact is that you are right to be wary of causing damage yourself. Even if you cut the roots with your neighbor's permission, if it dies they may try to claim some sort of negligence on your part and/or if it falls and damages someone else's roperty or injures someone, you are opening yourself up to a potential lawsuit. Whether or not you would be found liable is another matter but who needs that worry.

You again need to ask you neighbor to remove the roots; only this time do so in writing and send it to them certified mail, return receipt requested; be sure to mention that possible legal action may be taken if they do not comply with your request. Hopefully that will get their attention and compel them to take acton.


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