Featured News 2012 Tree Disputes: Worthy of a Lawsuit?

Tree Disputes: Worthy of a Lawsuit?

Trees cause more legal issues than you may assume. A tree that grows on a property line often creates issues when two neighbors claim that the tree is theirs. Sometimes, a tree from one yard may tumble onto a neighbor’s home, incurring thousands of dollars in damage. In some cases, a neighbor’s tree may block another resident’s view, causing them to become irritated and ask for the tree to be removed. In other cases, a tree may actually block an eyesore, and a neighbor may be angry that his fellow resident decided to chop the tree down.

Some people have emotional attachments to trees that have been in the neighborhood for years, and may complain when they hear that the tree is going to be demolished. The trees themselves may be protected by a variety of laws, complicating the issues with these arguments. If you have a tree dispute to work out, then you may want a real estate attorney on your side. By hiring legal help right from the very start, you will be able to do things right and make sure that you are dealing with the situation according to code.

Some legal disputes may be solvable without a formal court hearing. For example, if you are angry because your neighbors’ tree droops into your yard, you have the right by law to trim the branches a limb that extend into your property line. Typically, the law provides that you can trim branches up to your property line but not any further. You cannot push into your neighbor’s property to continue trimming, and you cannot chop down the tree because it affects your home. If you do damage a neighbor’s tree beyond your legal right, you may be held liable to pay up to three times the value of the tree.

The typical estimated value of a tree is about $500 to $2,500. Some landmark trees or ornamental trees can even cost up to $20,000, so evaluate the cost before pushing your limits when it comes to trimming a neighbor’s tree. A tree belongs to the person whose property houses the trunk. Even if most of the branches extend into your yard, the tree is still considered your neighbor’s if he or she has the trunk on his or her property line.

If your neighbor damages a tree on your property because of yard work, then you can seek compensation. For example, say that your neighbor began building a pool and dug into the ground, hitting the root to an oak tree and effectively causing the tree on your property to die, then you can ask for compensation. It your neighbor’s tree is irritating, you cannot file nuisance claims for sap or leaves that end up in your yard. Natural products are not considered for nuisance claims. You can seek compensation if the tree itself falls into your yard and damages your property. For example, if there is an old and dying tree and your neighbor does not get it removed, then you can be compensated for any damages if it falls over.

If the tree falls on your car or damages your landscaping, then you neighbor may need to compensate you for all of the damages. You may need to take this issue to court if your neighbor chooses to contest it. You may also be able to seek compensation if a tree on your neighbor’s property damages your septic tank or another underground entity. Spreading roots can tamper with underground pipes. If the damage is extensive, and your neighbor refuses to remove the tree, the court may press him to pay for your repairs. Talk to a real estate attorney if you want to learn more about tree lawsuits and how to handle these situations.

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