What is a homeowner’s responsibility for shrubbery that encroaches a neighbor’s yard?

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What is a homeowner’s responsibility for shrubbery that encroaches a neighbor’s yard?

My neighbor is constantly complaining about the bushes (for privacy) I have planted next to our common wall. She states they are encroaching and pushing her wood fence. Am I responsible for any part of the bush that drapes over her fence? And am I responsible for any “damages” to her fence, should the bush “push” it away from the common wall that it is attached too?

Asked on June 26, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This is such a common problem between neighbors that there is a saying: bad trees make bad neighbors.  Generally speaking the law is that any portion of your shrubbery that encroaches over the fence or wall in to the neighbors yard may be chopped off by the neighbor (but not to the destruction of the shrubbery or tree).  However, if the shrubs or the trees cause any damage to the fence then your neighbor is quite correct: you will be responsible for the damage done.  Planing right on the property line or fence is really never a good idea.  The trees always grow bigger than we expect and so does the complaining from next door.  Good luck.


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