Battling With Neighbors Over Tree Removal and Property Damage Laws

Suburbs require trees. Trees are a source of shelter and food for birdlife. They are known to improve air quality that we breathe. In addition, they have significant aesthetic value to the landscapes and towns that we live in. On the flip side, trees disrupt walls, block drains, disrupt foundations, cast long shadows, hide the view and occasionally fall down.  Because of this they are often the source of disputes and even lawsuits between neighbors.

Here we will cover some of the basics of property laws and property damage laws that can impact disputes between neighbors.

The Law

The law states that landowners have the right to the enjoyment and ordinary use of their land. However, this right extends to the neighbors of the landowner. It is also important to note that no one may unreasonably interfere with other individuals’ enjoyment and use of their land. This implies that a landowner is responsible for ensuring that his or her trees do not cause discomfort or problems for others.

If problems Arise

Tree damage across property lines is a common source of disputes between home owners. It’s important to know your stance by law.

In the event that the tree belonging to your neighbor is causing problems, it is advisable to first try talking to them. The reason behind this is that they may even be unaware of your plight. Consequently, give them an opportunity to fix things and seek a solution (like perhaps hiring a tree service company to handle any issues). that will make everyone content. After all a solution that is mutually agreeable is a way better option when compared to a costly, bitter and lengthy legal battle.

Cutting a Tree in Accordance with Law

In the event that the branches or roots of your neighbor’s tree encroach on your land, you can cut back the roots and branches to the boundary line. In law, it is referred to as abatement. In case you are uncomfortable doing this yourself, you can get an order from a district court that permits the trimming of the tree or even its removal.

If a tree is not causing any loss of enjoyment or harm, then abatement is the only option available to the landowner. However, if this option is not chosen then not much should be done to abate the nuisance. This should not result in unnecessary damage and the landowner ought not to trespass on the neighbor’s property. Similarly, the landowner should not create problems of any kind for the neighbor. He or she must not spray the tree with herbicide or poison its roots, this is because the consequences are likely to spread beyond your property line. If the property owner is cutting out part of the roots of a tree, caution should be exercised not undermine the stability of the ground surrounding it or the tree itself.

Fruit and cuttings belong to the owner of the tree. These should be returned to their property without causing any sort of damage or asking for their removal.

A tree planted on the boundary is co-owned by both property owners. If the neighbor declines to have the dispute resolved then an order application can be made to a district court to permit trimming or its removal.

Who pays?

If costs were incurred during cutting back of the branches and roots on your section of the boundary, there is a high probability that these costs cannot be claimed back from the owner of the tree. In the case that the tree of your neighbor has damaged your drains or its branch has fallen on your house, they have to pay.


The above write-up is an insightful peek into battling with neighbors over tree removal and property damage laws. Trees and neighbors are often overlooked but an in-depth understanding can help avoid problems.