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How should I handle a tree dispute with a neighbor?

On Behalf of | Sep 2, 2020 | Residential Real Estate

Trees often cause disputes between neighbors as they do not pay attention to property lines when growing. While you cannot always control how your tree behaves, you do have to find a way to coexist with your neighbor and keep arguments at bay.

Findlaw explains that most tree issues occur due to damage from a fallen limb.


In general, you only are responsible for damage due to your tree if you failed to properly maintain it. Your neighbor will have to prove in court that the tree needed care and you did not give it the care it needed, which led to an issue with the tree’s structure.

Also, if a storm damaged the tree, then it is an act of God, which is not something for which you have liability. The law sees it as an unforeseeable event that you could not control. However, if your neighbor can show that the tree was in disrepair and that the storm alone was not the cause, then you could be responsible.

Common issues

Beyond issues caused by damage after a storm, you may also have issues where your tree’s roots grow up into your neighbor’s property. In this case, you are responsible for taking care of the issue.

Some neighbors may become upset if leaves, fruit or nuts from your tree fall onto their properties. They have no legal leg to stand on with these complaints. This is a naturally occurring thing of which you have no control and they have no legal right to sue you over.

Your neighbor may be able to cut tree branches and limbs that cross property lines, but he or she needs to provide you notice first. In addition, the trimming can only go to the property line.