If my healthy tree has branches hanging over the roof of my neighbor’s house, do I have to pay to trim those branches?

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If my healthy tree has branches hanging over the roof of my neighbor’s house, do I have to pay to trim those branches?

My neighbor had a lawyer contact me with a letter stating that I need to trim the branches of my tree, that are growing over her house in San Louis Obispo County, California. She is concerned those branches are a danger to her property. Yes, the branches of my tree are growing over her house. Yes, if the tree came uprooted and fell onto her property it probably would cause damage No, the branches do not pose any kind of imminent threat it’s a young and very healthy tree. The letter states that I have 17 days to trim the branches of my tree. Otherwise my neighbor will hire a tree trimmer to have the branches over her house trimmed to my property line and then will send me the bill. Am I required by law to pay to trim the branches over her house or is she responsible?

Asked on May 17, 2019 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You are not responsible for paying this cost. And if they damage your tree, you could them for the cost to replace with with a healthy tree. There is no right to make another property owner pay to trim their foliage simply because it extends above someone else's property. If your tree were to fall on their home or drop a heavy branch, you'd likely be liable for any damage or injuries it caused since you have been put on notice that there are concerns about the degree to which it overhands another's property, but if nothing like that happens, you have no obligations or liability.
Your neighbor would have been better off taking the money they spent on the lawyer and simply using it to pay the tree trimming service.


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