Can I trim limbs from my Neighbor’s Tree?

Yes, you have a legal right to trim limbs from your neighbor’s tree if it causes nuisance or poses danger to you.  

Reasons for removing might be the extensive dropping of debris and dead branches, casting a shadow over your lovely fledgling veggies garden, and overhanging branches. 

Who pays for the trimming

Legally you could make your neighbor pay for the removal of tree limbs, but you might be hard pressed and it could take forever, so I encourage you to pay a tree service yourself.

What about the debris?

The tree service should remove the debris for you, but you are also well within your rights to leave the debris in their yard for removal. Again, if you are looking to maintain any kind of rapport with your neighbor, I suggest disposing of the debris yourself.

Right to Trimming your Neighbors Tree

There is a special rule that differentiates trimming of the overhanging branches from trimming your neighbor’s entire tree. Such disputes have been discussed in the courts for centuries. Whatever decisions are made are quoted by judges as precedents in the latter cases.

Overhanging branches extending beyond the boundary are regarded as a nuisance by the common law. Typically the branches are considered as trespass upon your land may they be causing damage or not. 

Therefore the common law allows you to trim the branches to do away with the nuisance without the owner’s permission. However, as aforementioned, it is a courtesy and respect to notifying your neighbor before starting trimming. 

Trimming Rules and Payment 

First and foremost, you should consider asking your neighbor to trim the branches since they are a nuisance to you and your property. Being the owner of the tree, he is legally responsible for payment to rectify the issue. 

If you decide to trim your neighbor’s tree and be on the safer side of the law, you must abide by the rules. It would be best if you did the trimming without trespassing into the neighbor’s land unless you have obtained permission to do it from their land. 

The trimming should be carried out without injuring the tree or making it unstable in any way. If it is a significant task, it is advised to engage a certified arborist to work on it correctly. Once done, the trimmed branches should be offered to your neighbor, considering he/she is the owner of the tree. However, it is wrong to throw them over the fence since it is considered trespass. 

Since you’re the one trimming the tree, you bear all the cost that comes with it unless the court orders that the neighbor caters to the cost. Remember, if you take action and prune the tree carelessly, causing injury or damage to the tree, the neighbor can sue you for damages. 

What If The Tree Is Protected?

In this case, you will need to do more than talk to your neighbor. The local government accords the council the power to intervene if the tree poses a danger to you and your household. It is your responsibility to hire an arborist to access the tree and write a report indicating that the tree causes nuisance or structurally unsound. Talking to a professional, you know what is safe to do and what you shouldn’t do.  

Suppose the local council approves the claim that indeed the tree poses a danger or nuisance they issue you with a notice to proceed with the trimming. Remember, it is very crucial to reach out to the council before you take any action. 

What Happens If The Tree Grows In The Property Line?

This is another possibility that may leave you wondering what to do if the tree is a nuisance to you. In case the tree trunk grows in both your neighbor’s property and yours, then both of you own the tree, and you’re both responsible. 

If the branches hanging on your side make you uncomfortable, you have the right to trim the tree. Considering that the tree trimming and removal rules differ from one state to the other, ensure you check out the laws of your area. 

Bottom line 

The simplest answer to this question is, yes, you have the legal right to trim your neighbor’s tree if it causes a nuisance to you or your property. However, consider the law governing tree trimming or removal in your area before proceeding with your work. 

Be cautious not to cause harm or injure the tree since you’ll be held liable and can be sued. Even though you have the right to trim your neighbor’s tree by the law, engaging them is an act of respect and is very important. 

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