Can I trim or insist on removal of my neighbor’s trees?

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Can I trim or insist on removal of my neighbor’s trees?

Approximately 30 years ago, my neighbor asked to plant 12 Arborvite trees on our property line. He installed a fence which did not fence in the trees on his property. They are now way overgrown on my property. He recently passed away. I want the trees removed but his son won’t do anything. He says that he sold the house and new owners like the trees. Can I trim them on my side of the property or just pay the cost to have them removed? I’d prefer to have them removed.

Asked on April 8, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Okay, you really should talk to a lawyer who handles real property in your state and I will explain why. Let's start with the simple. First of all, if the fence is on their property or is on the property line but the trees still overgrow onto your property, you don't need anyone's permission to trim to the property line any part that encroaches on your side. While you may be able to get them to pay for it, most simply trim back the part that encroaches on their property as long as it is not causing any major damage to your home or structures. Next, you mention that the trees were not fenced in. In other words, if the fence was inside but the trees actually are on your side of the fence, you need to find out if by the 30 year passage of time, that property line has now changed so that you actually have gained property. Talk to a lawyer, at the very least you might be able to find out if by virtue of placement, you have obtained a prescriptive easement.


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