If my neighbor’s tree roots are encroaching on my property, what are my rights?

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If my neighbor’s tree roots are encroaching on my property, what are my rights?

Asked on August 5, 2015 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If your neighbor is aware of the problem AND the roots do damage--e.g. buckle a driveway or walkway; infiltrate a pipe--and the neighbor had failed to take any action (like having those roots cut back, or even the whole tree removed), then he or she could be liable (or responsible) for the cost of any damage. But the neighbor must first be aware of the situation--so you should tell him or her, and do so in some way you can document or prove delivery--and have a reasonable time or chance to take corrective action, in order to be liable.

If no damage is done, there is nothing you can do: the law does not control the spread of tree roots, but just makes property owners liable for the consequences thereof, if they had knowledge of the problem but failed to act.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If your neighbor is aware of the problem AND the roots do damage--e.g. buckle a driveway or walkway; infiltrate a pipe--and the neighbor had failed to take any action (like having those roots cut back, or even the whole tree removed), then he or she could be liable (or responsible) for the cost of any damage. But the neighbor must first be aware of the situation--so you should tell him or her, and do so in some way you can document or prove delivery--and have a reasonable time or chance to take corrective action, in order to be liable.

If no damage is done, there is nothing you can do: the law does not control the spread of tree roots, but just makes property owners liable for the consequences thereof, if they had knowledge of the problem but failed to act.


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