Can I cut a tree root so it doesn’t damage my driveway if the tree is on my neighbor’s property?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I cut a tree root so it doesn’t damage my driveway if the tree is on my neighbor’s property?

The tree is on another’s property that’s up for sale. My subdivision planted trees in the parkway on the property line. The 1st tree died another planted in it’s place, 2nd tree ended up on neighbor’s property. That house is up for sale. There are 3 roots growing out, 1 towards the street, another towards the sidewalk and 1 towards my driveway.

Asked on August 28, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Missouri


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that state laws vary a bit on this issue. However, most courts hold the view that if the roots of a homeowner's tree cause damage to a neighbor's property, then the neighbor can take action. They have the right to cut off branches or roots that have grown onto their property. First, however, they must give notice to the owner of the that they will take such action. Also, when they trim an encroaching tree, they can only trim up to the property line. Additionally, they cannot cut the entire tree down and cannot destroy the structural integrity of the tree by improper trimming. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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