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Can you trim your neighbor’s tree?

On Behalf of | May 12, 2021 | Real Estate Law |

Boundary disputes often involve things like fences that have been constructed on the wrong side of the property line or structures — sheds, garages, etc — that are too close to the line. But man-made structures are not always the focal point. 

For instance, imagine that your neighbor has a massive tree in their yard. When you moved in, it was firmly located only on their side of the line. Over the years, though, the branches have grown wider and they now hang down over your yard. 

Worried about the branches falling on your home, your yard or your children, you want to trim them back. But are you allowed to do so without getting permission from your neighbor? Could they refuse?

You can trim the part of the tree that’s over your property

You can trim the tree if needed. Your neighbor cannot refuse to allow you to do so. Anything that extends over onto your property is fair game. Just make sure you know where the line is, and you can trim back to that point. 

What you cannot do is trim it back farther than the line or cross that line and cut down the entire tree on your neighbor’s property. They own it. Doing so could result in legal action. 

This could turn into a difficult situation

Of course, an issue with a tree could also turn into a boundary line dispute. What if they claim that none of the tree is on your property or they do not agree on where your property line really is? If things become complicated, you must know what legal steps to take to protect yourself. If a boundary dispute turns ugly, it may be time to speak with an attorney.