What is my recourse if branches from neighbor’s tree pose a potential hazard?

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What is my recourse if branches from neighbor’s tree pose a potential hazard?

Our neighbor has a tall tree with many large branches that extend over our property. Many of the branches are dead. I’m concerned that if some of the branches were to break and fall, they could cause injury or property damage. I’ve asked my neighbors for permission to have a professional tree trimmer climb their tree to remove only those branches that extend into our property but the neighbors have refused unless I agree to pay to have their entire tree removed they don’t want the tree on their property either but don’t want to pay to deal with it. If a limb were to fall on our property and cause harm or damage, I assume they would be liable, but am looking to understand the law on this case. And also what I can do preemptively to deal with the branches so that we don’t have to worry about someone getting hurt or property damaged. There’s unfortunately no other way to remove the branches than to have someone climb the tree. The tree is beyond reach of a truck or crane.

Asked on April 24, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

State laws vary on this issue, however most courts hold the view that if the roots of a homeowner's tree can potentially cause damage to a neighbor's property, the neighbor has the right to take action. Accordingly, once a property owner puts the tree owner on notice, it can cut off the branches or roots that have grown onto their property. That having been said, a property owner who trims an encroaching tree can only trim up to the boundary line and cannot destroy the structural integrity of the tree by improper trimming. Additionally, overhanging branches might be considered an encroachment, so your neighbor may be required to remove the tree. Again, laws on this kind of thing vary from state to state so you should consult directly with a local real estate attorney as to your rights and remedies.

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

State laws vary on this issue, however most courts hold the view that if the roots of a homeowner's tree can potentially cause damage to a neighbor's property, the neighbor has the right to take action. Accordingly, once a property owner puts the tree owner on notice, it can cut off the branches or roots that have grown onto their property. That having been said, a property owner who trims an encroaching tree can only trim up to the boundary line and cannot destroy the structural integrity of the tree by improper trimming. Additionally, overhanging branches might be considered an encroachment, so your neighbor may be required to remove the tree. Again, laws on this kind of thing vary from state to state so you should consult directly with a local real estate attorney as to your rights and remedies.


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