What do I do about a spite fence?

My neighbor had bamboo planted in his yard immediately alongside my
fence. The bamboo plants form a dense fence/barrier about 25 feet in
length, and some reeds have reached what appears to be at least 30 feet
in height. As my single-story house is close to my fence between our
properties, the bamboo leaves are taller than my home and bending over
and touching my roof and gutter area alongside part of the house. My
insurance company sent me a letter advising that the plants be cut back
and removed from touching the house to prevent water damage. Because
of previous issues with the neighbor resolved, I do not think he would be
receptive to me informing him that the plants need to be at least cut down
periodically to a certain height. The plants will continue to grow and
encroach on my home even if I could reach and cut some of the leaves
crossing over onto my property, it would be an ongoing task and
potentially unsafe using a ladder. What are my rights in Louisiana, and
what is the best way to address the situation? What are the height laws for
natural barriers such as bamboo, and are there any laws about proximity
to my property line?

Asked on September 23, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Any laws about heights of barriers (natural or otherwise) and/or distance from a neighbor's home are local: you need to check municipal ordinances and code. The easiest way to do that is to contact your town/city's department of code enforcement or building (it goes by different names). If the bamboo is in violation, complain to the agency.
You are allowed to trim that portion of his bamboo which extends over your property; you can only cut it back to the property line. You could sue him, such as in small claims court, for the cost thereof.
If your home is damaged by his plants, he liable for any damage they do and again, you could sue him for that. You may wish to let him know that you will hold him liable for any damage and that you will trim back that portion of his plants over your property line and seem (in court if necessary) reimbursement from him, unless he cuts it back himself.
A good idea is to thoroughly document everything: lots of pictures of the plants over you line or in contact with your house; send him communications in writing, sent some way you can prove delivery. If you feel talking to him first is the better approach, then speak first, then confirm in writing.


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