Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Topic Author
CtScrtDsse
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2021 2:14 pm

Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by CtScrtDsse »

Hello,

First, thank you for everyone's advice. I am continually learning from this website and have been thankful for all of the advice everyone has to offer.

Our neighbor has a large tree and a very large tree branch is overhanging our property...it's dead and could fall anytime, although it's been like that for over two years. It is overhanging our fence and definitely will do damage when it falls. Who's responsibility is the branch? Our neighbor would like us to pay to have it cut down. Not sure where we should look for information. I don't want to call the insurance (we've had a lot of trouble with our insurance and they've made it clear that if we file another claim for anything, they will drop us). Not sure if it matters where we live either (Ohio).

Thank you for the help and guidance.
alex_686
Posts: 10764
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 2:39 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by alex_686 »

I would think this would very much depend on local laws.

Where I live the branch would be your reasonability since it is in your property. Hire a contractor to do a hack job in bringing down the branch that is just over your property line.

That being said, most responsible homeowners would take care of the branch themselves. I would think if there was 1 dead branch in your yard there are other branches that should be cleaned up.
Former brokerage operations & mutual fund accountant. I hate risk, which is why I study and embrace it.
student
Posts: 7369
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:58 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by student »

My understanding is if a tree from your neighbor falls and damages your property, then it is your responsibility to clean up and repair the damage unless your neighbor is negligent. In this particular case, I would say it is on your neighbor to cut down the tree (if the tree is dead) but it is your responsibility to cut the part that is overhanging to your property. https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/neig ... e-falls-in "Homeowners should be concerned about the health of their trees. It’s possible for you to be held responsible for resulting damage to your neighbor’s house or property, if your tree falls due (in whole or part) to your own neglect."
Jags4186
Posts: 7066
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by Jags4186 »

Why wait to find out? Have someone come and cut the branch back to the property line. In fact, have them cut every single branch back to the property line.
Californiastate
Posts: 1425
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2021 11:52 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by Californiastate »

Jags4186 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:48 am Why wait to find out? Have someone come and cut the branch back to the property line. In fact, have them cut every single branch back to the property line.
The OP is looking to compel the tree owner to pay for the service.
alex_686
Posts: 10764
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 2:39 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by alex_686 »

Californiastate wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:49 am
Jags4186 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:48 am Why wait to find out? Have someone come and cut the branch back to the property line. In fact, have them cut every single branch back to the property line.
The OP is looking to compel the tree owner to pay for the service.
Actually, the way that I read it the tree owner is trying to compel the OP to pay. And legally he may be in the right - it may be the OP's responsibility.

Which is why I suggested doing a hack job. Cut everything that overhangs the property line and leave a ugly tree. This might inspire the tree's owner to pay for it.
Former brokerage operations & mutual fund accountant. I hate risk, which is why I study and embrace it.
livesoft
Posts: 81171
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by livesoft »

Californiastate wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:49 amThe OP is looking to compel the tree owner to pay for the service.
The OP is barking up the wrong tree. The OP should pay to have the branch overhanging their property removed.

When I or my neighbors have dealt with trees affecting both our properties we are nice about it and share the costs appropriately without looking up any laws.
Last edited by livesoft on Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.
User avatar
JoeRetire
Posts: 13813
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:44 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by JoeRetire »

CtScrtDsse wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:30 am Our neighbor has a large tree and a very large tree branch is overhanging our property...it's dead and could fall anytime, although it's been like that for over two years. It is overhanging our fence and definitely will do damage when it falls. Who's responsibility is the branch?
You. You are responsible for trimming branches over your property up to the property line.

Maybe if you ask nicely your neighbor will split the costs.
Last edited by JoeRetire on Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Oh, noooooo! I'm so sorry, it's the moops! The correct answer is 'the moops'.
Jags4186
Posts: 7066
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by Jags4186 »

Californiastate wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:49 am
Jags4186 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:48 am Why wait to find out? Have someone come and cut the branch back to the property line. In fact, have them cut every single branch back to the property line.
The OP is looking to compel the tree owner to pay for the service.
Yea, and they already said no.

OP, call town hall, ask for the town forrester. Have them come out and look at the tree. If they say it's dead then, depending on the laws in your municipality, you may get the town to fine the neighbor until they take the tree down. Of course, in the mean time the branch could fall and damage your property which would lead to much aggrivation.
scophreak
Posts: 302
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:17 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by scophreak »

student wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:41 am My understanding is if a tree from your neighbor falls and damages your property, then it is your responsibility to clean up and repair the damage unless your neighbor is negligent. In this particular case, I would say it is on your neighbor to cut down the tree (if the tree is dead) but it is your responsibility to cut the part that is overhanging to your property. https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/neig ... e-falls-in "Homeowners should be concerned about the health of their trees. It’s possible for you to be held responsible for resulting damage to your neighbor’s house or property, if your tree falls due (in whole or part) to your own neglect."
This differs from my understanding of how these situations are handled. Note that your quoted statement indicates that "homeowners should be concerned about the health of their trees. It's possible for you to be held responsible for resulting damage to your neighbor's house or property, if your tree falls (in whole or in part) to your own neglect" (emphasis added).

In this case, the tree in question is not owned by the OP. IANAL, but it appears logical that branches dead for over 2 years fits the definition of "neglect" by the neighbor/tree owner. If I were in this situation, I would discuss again with the neighbor and document that they are indeed aware of the status of the tree BEFORE any damage occurs. In short, I don't believe OP is legally responsible for cutting the dead branches. Of course, it may be faster/easier for OP to coordinate with the neighbor in having said branches trimmed/removed.
Last edited by scophreak on Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
valleyrock
Posts: 579
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:12 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by valleyrock »

You have every right to remove tree branches that extend over the property line. And I'd sure do that if it looks like it could be a dangerous situation.

Bear in mind that, if you go this route, it's still a good idea to inform the neighbor about when the tree people are coming, so they won't be surprised and so they won't get overly exercised if one of tree people veers over the property line while working.

The neighbor who owns the tree is, of course, responsible for any damage it causes by falling over, by a falling branch, etc. It's their tree, after all. Certainly you have every right to let the neighbor know that you've noticed a dangerous situation, which could affect you, created by the tree. If you do that, make a note of the date and time and what was said, on the off chance that a hurricane comes through in 6 months and knocks the tree over and smashes your garage. Your insurance company, if they're any good would go after his insurance company to set things right.

I've seen neighbors sharing the cost of cutting down and removing such a tree. It might be worth considering that and discussing it with the neighbor.
Otherwise, you should just get the branch removed and move on.

I recently got estimates for just that situation. The big company with big trucks and cranes want one price. While a local tree-climber company (also insured) gave an estimate of half the price. This includes removal of all cuttings, etc., of course.

How to find a good tree company? I tend to use Nextdoor.com and either ask or use the search feature to find where people already have asked. There are other ways, such as Angie's list, as a way to get a start of a list. Just plan ahead. These people schedule a month or more ahead, and that's after giving an estimate.
Last edited by valleyrock on Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
Jags4186
Posts: 7066
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by Jags4186 »

alex_686 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:53 am
Californiastate wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:49 am
Jags4186 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:48 am Why wait to find out? Have someone come and cut the branch back to the property line. In fact, have them cut every single branch back to the property line.
The OP is looking to compel the tree owner to pay for the service.
Actually, the way that I read it the tree owner is trying to compel the OP to pay. And legally he may be in the right - it may be the OP's responsibility.

Which is why I suggested doing a hack job. Cut everything that overhangs the property line and leave a ugly tree. This might inspire the tree's owner to pay for it.
It would also leave the tree heavy on the neighbors side so if it were to fall it would likely fall towards the neighbors property, not yours.
User avatar
vineviz
Posts: 13308
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 1:55 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by vineviz »

CtScrtDsse wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:30 am It is overhanging our fence and definitely will do damage when it falls. Who's responsibility is the branch?
I've never lived anywhere where anyone but the homeowner being "overhung" is responsible.

But I've also never possessed a fence so valuable that I'd file an insurance claim over it. In fact, a neighbor's tree was struck by lighting and fell on our porch and we simply paid for the removal of the debris and the repairs out of pocket.
"Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections than has been lost in corrections themselves." ~~ Peter Lynch
tunafish
Posts: 352
Joined: Mon Apr 26, 2021 9:47 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by tunafish »

alex_686 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:53 am
Californiastate wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:49 am
Jags4186 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:48 am Why wait to find out? Have someone come and cut the branch back to the property line. In fact, have them cut every single branch back to the property line.
The OP is looking to compel the tree owner to pay for the service.
Actually, the way that I read it the tree owner is trying to compel the OP to pay. And legally he may be in the right - it may be the OP's responsibility.

Which is why I suggested doing a hack job. Cut everything that overhangs the property line and leave a ugly tree. This might inspire the tree's owner to pay for it.
I fail to see why it is right the OP should engage in blackmail to avoid his responsibilities.

My neighbor doesn't like trees, so she had a hack job done on a beautiful oak that had branches in her yard that I refused to have cut down (the entire tree note). So I left the tree hacked up so she could look at it every time she was in her back yard. After a number of years the tree grew back out.
valleyrock
Posts: 579
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:12 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by valleyrock »

vineviz wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:58 am
CtScrtDsse wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:30 am It is overhanging our fence and definitely will do damage when it falls. Who's responsibility is the branch?
I've never lived anywhere where anyone but the homeowner being "overhung" is responsible.

But I've also never possessed a fence so valuable that I'd file an insurance claim over it. In fact, a neighbor's tree was struck by lighting and fell on our porch and we simply paid for the removal of the debris and the repairs out of pocket.

I've never lived anywhere that the owner of the property where a tree grows wasn't responsible for damage caused by their tree, their car, their kid throwing rocks through my windows, or anything else.
scophreak
Posts: 302
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:17 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by scophreak »

Again, I don't believe that this is OP's responsibility. Given that the tree in question had dead branches, it is clear that it is a known hazard. The following is taken from a law firm and discusses responsibility as it pertains to PA law (your particular state law may differ):

If your Neighbor’s tree along your property line is a hazard
If the hazard tree is along your property line, but is considered to be the neighbor’s tree, notify them immediately and request they remove it. If they refuse to do so, you can hire an arborist to remove the portion of the tree that overhangs your property. You can then require your neighbor to reimburse you for the cost. If all or any portion of a hazard tree falls on your property, and your neighbor was aware of or should have known that it was dangerous, your neighbor is responsible for any damage that you suffered, including your cost of removal.
User avatar
vineviz
Posts: 13308
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 1:55 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by vineviz »

scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:56 am In this case, the tree in question is not owned by the OP.
The portion of the tree that overhangs the OP's property is, in every jurisdiction I'm aware of, owned by (and is the responsibility of) the OP.

If the OP clears the "airspace" over their property AND the tree still damages their fence AND the OP could establish that the neighbor was negligent then there MIGHT be an interesting twist.
"Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections than has been lost in corrections themselves." ~~ Peter Lynch
Turbo29
Posts: 955
Joined: Tue May 01, 2018 7:12 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by Turbo29 »

Related question: What if the neighbors landscaper is trimming the tree and cuts the branches over hanging your property and they drop into your yard and then the landscaper just leaves them? Note that there is a wall separating both yards.
It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them. --M. Twain
User avatar
Doom&Gloom
Posts: 4765
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 3:36 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by Doom&Gloom »

You're stuck. Hire someone to come cut that branch and any others that overhang your property that may become an issue. Fewer trips = less total cost to you.

And doing that will be cheaper and less of a headache than dealing with the aftermath when the dead limb finally decides to fall on its own schedule. After a couple of my neighbor's trees/limbs fell on our house he offered to cut anything else of his that we wanted him to. Better late than never. I wouldn't be buying your neighbor any beers.
coalcracker
Posts: 949
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:25 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by coalcracker »

Recently I was discussing this subject with my brother (who is a lawyer in NJ). Agree with most who say you have the right to cut branches that overhang your property. The only wrinkle to this general rule is that, according to my brother, if your cutting kills the neighbors tree you may be liable depending how badly you "hacked it."
HomeStretch
Posts: 8428
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2018 3:06 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by HomeStretch »

alex_686 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:39 am I would think this would very much depend on local laws.

Where I live the branch would be your reasonability since it is in your property. Hire a contractor to do a hack job in bringing down the branch that is just over your property line. …
OP, this is true in my state as well.

I generally include such tree branch trimming work in my annual tree work at my expense. But, if after a neighborly talk a neighbor would not address dead/damaged trees that may damage my property, one option is to obtain a report from a licensed arborist (specifically specifying the trees/limbs) and to send the report with a notice about the hazard via certified mail to the homeowner (with a copy to my insurer). This generally shifts the financial responsibility in my state from me to the neighbor for damage to my property from trees noted in the report. You may want to see if this is an effective tool for you to help convince your neighbor to prune his dead tree limbs.
scophreak
Posts: 302
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:17 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by scophreak »

vineviz wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:04 am
scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:56 am In this case, the tree in question is not owned by the OP.
The portion of the tree that overhangs the OP's property is, in every jurisdiction I'm aware of, owned by (and is the responsibility of) the OP.

If the OP clears the "airspace" over their property AND the tree still damages their fence AND the OP could establish that the neighbor was negligent then there MIGHT be an interesting twist.
This again doesn't seem to fit with established case law, at least here in PA. Another discussion from a PA law firm detailing responsibility:

"In 1975, the Pennsylvania Superior Court declared that the owner of land in or adjacent to a “developed or residential area” is liable for damage caused by a tree on their property if they knew, or should have known, that a defect in the tree posed an unreasonable danger to persons or property outside their land and the damage occurred as a result of their failure to remedy the dangerous defect. The Court articulated a two-part duty of “reasonable care” on property owners to (1) learn of defective conditions in their trees and (2) remedy the condition by treating or removing the tree, or otherwise acting to remedy the danger posed by the condition."

This is in agreement with my prior post, and of course hinges on the neighbor's awareness of the defect (which is why I advised documenting neighbor's awareness of the dead branches). Of course, as I also advised previously, it may indeed be in OP's best interest to come to a mutual resolution with the neighbor before damage occurs.
User avatar
8foot7
Posts: 3760
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:29 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by 8foot7 »

It is not the neighbor's responsibility. I, too, was surprised of this but it is thus.
That said, taking no action on a dead tree is not necessarily a negligent action, depending on your locality. Additionally, damaging a fence is not really a big deal if it threatens no other structures. Your neighbor cannot compel you to pay to cut down a tree on their property, nor can they compel you to trim a branch of a tree planted on their lot that overhangs your property. This is one of those things where there's not much upside for you either way but you can roll the dice and see how long you can go without a fence expense.
Paying both an arborist to write a report plus a tree-trimming company seems a little much, not to mention the social cost of sending certified mail to your neighbor, but I don't know your fence. We've had a couple of trees fall on ours over the years and the repair each time was about $150. It was not a big deal and certainly not some sort of financial catastrophe I'd go to great lengths to avoid.
Last edited by 8foot7 on Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:22 am, edited 3 times in total.
alex_686
Posts: 10764
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 2:39 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by alex_686 »

tunafish wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:02 am I fail to see why it is right the OP should engage in blackmail to avoid his responsibilities.

My neighbor doesn't like trees, so she had a hack job done on a beautiful oak that had branches in her yard that I refused to have cut down (the entire tree note). So I left the tree hacked up so she could look at it every time she was in her back yard. After a number of years the tree grew back out.
There is a difference between legal, economic, and moral responsibilities.

I think that it is the tree owner's moral responsibility to take care of their own trees. Even if not morally responsible it would be the neighborly thing to do. We should all try to go above and beyond the bare legal requirements to make a happy community.

The cheapest economic solution would be for the owner to pay to have the whole tree trimmed.

That being said, yes, probably the legal responsibility falls on the OP. Maybe the OP should partially cover the cost of a full prune. Neighbors should hopefully be able to work together. However the amount of absolute negotiating power the OP has is small.

I would not classify this as blackmail. The OP can only trim the branches on their side. If push comes to push this is what the OP will have to do. Doing the legally minimum in not blackmail.

In any case I would not a big deal of this one way or the other.
Former brokerage operations & mutual fund accountant. I hate risk, which is why I study and embrace it.
Uniballer
Posts: 362
Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:55 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by Uniballer »

The OP said he lives in Ohio. This should apply: Pining for Answers in Ohio Tree Law
User avatar
JoeRetire
Posts: 13813
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:44 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by JoeRetire »

scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:12 am
vineviz wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:04 am
scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:56 am In this case, the tree in question is not owned by the OP.
The portion of the tree that overhangs the OP's property is, in every jurisdiction I'm aware of, owned by (and is the responsibility of) the OP.

If the OP clears the "airspace" over their property AND the tree still damages their fence AND the OP could establish that the neighbor was negligent then there MIGHT be an interesting twist.
This again doesn't seem to fit with established case law, at least here in PA. Another discussion from a PA law firm detailing responsibility:

"In 1975, the Pennsylvania Superior Court declared that the owner of land in or adjacent to a “developed or residential area” is liable for damage caused by a tree on their property if they knew, or should have known, that a defect in the tree posed an unreasonable danger to persons or property outside their land and the damage occurred as a result of their failure to remedy the dangerous defect. The Court articulated a two-part duty of “reasonable care” on property owners to (1) learn of defective conditions in their trees and (2) remedy the condition by treating or removing the tree, or otherwise acting to remedy the danger posed by the condition."

This is in agreement with my prior post, and of course hinges on the neighbor's awareness of the defect (which is why I advised documenting neighbor's awareness of the dead branches). Of course, as I also advised previously, it may indeed be in OP's best interest to come to a mutual resolution with the neighbor before damage occurs.
If the dead branch (which apparently has been in place for over 2 years) ever falls and actually damages your property, you can sue for the damages. Maybe you will win, maybe not.

Until that happens (if ever), you can trim the branch at your expense, or just live with it and wait.
Oh, noooooo! I'm so sorry, it's the moops! The correct answer is 'the moops'.
Californiastate
Posts: 1425
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2021 11:52 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by Californiastate »

scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:04 am Again, I don't believe that this is OP's responsibility. Given that the tree in question had dead branches, it is clear that it is a known hazard. The following is taken from a law firm and discusses responsibility as it pertains to PA law (your particular state law may differ):

If your Neighbor’s tree along your property line is a hazard
If the hazard tree is along your property line, but is considered to be the neighbor’s tree, notify them immediately and request they remove it. If they refuse to do so, you can hire an arborist to remove the portion of the tree that overhangs your property. You can then require your neighbor to reimburse you for the cost. If all or any portion of a hazard tree falls on your property, and your neighbor was aware of or should have known that it was dangerous, your neighbor is responsible for any damage that you suffered, including your cost of removal.
What defines the appropriate level of hazard to determine the response? I could potentially have a pine tree that drops pine needles. The neighbor trips on the pine needles in their yard and per your quote can attack me for negligence.
User avatar
vineviz
Posts: 13308
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 1:55 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by vineviz »

scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:12 am
vineviz wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:04 am
scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:56 am In this case, the tree in question is not owned by the OP.
The portion of the tree that overhangs the OP's property is, in every jurisdiction I'm aware of, owned by (and is the responsibility of) the OP.

If the OP clears the "airspace" over their property AND the tree still damages their fence AND the OP could establish that the neighbor was negligent then there MIGHT be an interesting twist.
This again doesn't seem to fit with established case law, at least here in PA. Another discussion from a PA law firm detailing responsibility:

"In 1975, the Pennsylvania Superior Court declared that the owner of land in or adjacent to a “developed or residential area” is liable for damage caused by a tree on their property if they knew, or should have known, that a defect in the tree posed an unreasonable danger to persons or property outside their land and the damage occurred as a result of their failure to remedy the dangerous defect. The Court articulated a two-part duty of “reasonable care” on property owners to (1) learn of defective conditions in their trees and (2) remedy the condition by treating or removing the tree, or otherwise acting to remedy the danger posed by the condition."

This is in agreement with my prior post, and of course hinges on the neighbor's awareness of the defect (which is why I advised documenting neighbor's awareness of the dead branches). Of course, as I also advised previously, it may indeed be in OP's best interest to come to a mutual resolution with the neighbor before damage occurs.
The OP has a dead branch above THEIR fence which means that portion of the tree is not, in fact, on the neighbor's property. It is on the OP's property.

If the tree topples over (i.e. crosses from the neighbor's property into the OP's property) that's a different set of facts from the one we have, in which the OP knows they have a dead branch on their own property.

I'm not saying that PA case law makes it IMPOSSIBLE that the OP might compel the neighbor to reimburse them for the expense of trimming the branch. Or paying for fence repairs if preemptive removal is not undertaken. But from what I've read it's far from clear cut (no pun intended), even in PA.
Last edited by vineviz on Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
"Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections than has been lost in corrections themselves." ~~ Peter Lynch
User avatar
JoeRetire
Posts: 13813
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:44 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by JoeRetire »

Californiastate wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:27 am
scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:04 am Again, I don't believe that this is OP's responsibility. Given that the tree in question had dead branches, it is clear that it is a known hazard. The following is taken from a law firm and discusses responsibility as it pertains to PA law (your particular state law may differ):

If your Neighbor’s tree along your property line is a hazard
If the hazard tree is along your property line, but is considered to be the neighbor’s tree, notify them immediately and request they remove it. If they refuse to do so, you can hire an arborist to remove the portion of the tree that overhangs your property. You can then require your neighbor to reimburse you for the cost. If all or any portion of a hazard tree falls on your property, and your neighbor was aware of or should have known that it was dangerous, your neighbor is responsible for any damage that you suffered, including your cost of removal.
What defines the appropriate level of hazard to determine the response? I could potentially have a pine tree that drops pine needles. The neighbor trips on the pine needles in their yard and per your quote can attack me for negligence.
Of course they can attack you for negligence. The only real question is if they will win.
Oh, noooooo! I'm so sorry, it's the moops! The correct answer is 'the moops'.
student
Posts: 7369
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:58 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by student »

scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:56 am
student wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:41 am My understanding is if a tree from your neighbor falls and damages your property, then it is your responsibility to clean up and repair the damage unless your neighbor is negligent. In this particular case, I would say it is on your neighbor to cut down the tree (if the tree is dead) but it is your responsibility to cut the part that is overhanging to your property. https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/neig ... e-falls-in "Homeowners should be concerned about the health of their trees. It’s possible for you to be held responsible for resulting damage to your neighbor’s house or property, if your tree falls due (in whole or part) to your own neglect."
This differs from my understanding of how these situations are handled. Note that your quoted statement indicates that "homeowners should be concerned about the health of their trees. It's possible for you to be held responsible for resulting damage to your neighbor's house or property, if your tree falls (in whole or in part) to your own neglect" (emphasis added).

In this case, the tree in question is not owned by the OP. IANAL, but it appears logical that branches dead for over 2 years fits the definition of "neglect" by the neighbor/tree owner. If I were in this situation, I would discuss again with the neighbor and document that they are indeed aware of the status of the tree BEFORE any damage occurs. In short, I don't believe OP is legally responsible for cutting the dead branches. Of course, it may be faster/easier for OP to coordinate with the neighbor in having said branches trimmed/removed.
You have a point. IANAL either.
junior
Posts: 1277
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:14 pm
Contact:

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by junior »

vineviz wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:28 am
The OP has a dead branch above THEIR fence which means that portion of the tree is not, in fact, on the neighbor's property. It is on the OP's property.

If the tree topples over (i.e. crosses from the neighbor's property into the OP's property) that's a different set of facts from the one we have, in which the OP knows they have a dead branch on their own property.

This article, apparently from a local PA government reference book of some sort, makes it even more clear that a tree branch growing over a neighbor's property is a trespass and in PA OPs neighbor would be responsible for trespassing on OPs property and OP can pursue "various remedies" including reimbursement for cutting the tree branch down

https://doylestownpa.org/wp-content/upl ... operty.pdf

What op needs to do is try to find something like this for Ohio which clarifies who is responsible.
CoastLawyer2030
Posts: 796
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2020 8:44 am
Location: The Buckeye State

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by CoastLawyer2030 »

CtScrtDsse wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:30 am Hello,

First, thank you for everyone's advice. I am continually learning from this website and have been thankful for all of the advice everyone has to offer.

Our neighbor has a large tree and a very large tree branch is overhanging our property...it's dead and could fall anytime, although it's been like that for over two years. It is overhanging our fence and definitely will do damage when it falls. Who's responsibility is the branch? Our neighbor would like us to pay to have it cut down. Not sure where we should look for information. I don't want to call the insurance (we've had a lot of trouble with our insurance and they've made it clear that if we file another claim for anything, they will drop us). Not sure if it matters where we live either (Ohio).

Thank you for the help and guidance.
I'm an Ohio lawyer. Not giving you legal advice but the answers, generally --

1. You own the land up to the sky, so you own the branches that overhang.

2. You can thus trim the trees.

3. You still want to be very careful when you do so. Ohio has a statute (R.C. 951.01) that provides for treble damages for damaging a plant without privilege to do so. While you do have a privilege to cut the branches overhanging your property, you should probably coordinate with your neighbor. I am not an arborist but when you cut just one side of a tree, it makes the tree go out of balance. Thus theoretically you could cause damage to the neighbor's property if the tree eventually dies.
scophreak
Posts: 302
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:17 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by scophreak »

vineviz wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:28 am
scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:12 am
vineviz wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:04 am
scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:56 am In this case, the tree in question is not owned by the OP.
The portion of the tree that overhangs the OP's property is, in every jurisdiction I'm aware of, owned by (and is the responsibility of) the OP.

If the OP clears the "airspace" over their property AND the tree still damages their fence AND the OP could establish that the neighbor was negligent then there MIGHT be an interesting twist.
This again doesn't seem to fit with established case law, at least here in PA. Another discussion from a PA law firm detailing responsibility:

"In 1975, the Pennsylvania Superior Court declared that the owner of land in or adjacent to a “developed or residential area” is liable for damage caused by a tree on their property if they knew, or should have known, that a defect in the tree posed an unreasonable danger to persons or property outside their land and the damage occurred as a result of their failure to remedy the dangerous defect. The Court articulated a two-part duty of “reasonable care” on property owners to (1) learn of defective conditions in their trees and (2) remedy the condition by treating or removing the tree, or otherwise acting to remedy the danger posed by the condition."

This is in agreement with my prior post, and of course hinges on the neighbor's awareness of the defect (which is why I advised documenting neighbor's awareness of the dead branches). Of course, as I also advised previously, it may indeed be in OP's best interest to come to a mutual resolution with the neighbor before damage occurs.
The OP has a dead branch above THEIR fence which means that portion of the tree is not, in fact, on the neighbor's property. It is on the OP's property.

If the tree topples over (i.e. crosses from the neighbor's property into the OP's property) that's a different set of facts from the one we have, in which the OP knows they have a dead branch on their own property.

I'm not saying that PA case law makes it IMPOSSIBLE that the OP might compel the neighbor to reimburse them for the expense of trimming the branch. Or paying for fence repairs if preemptive removal is not undertaken. But from what I've read it's far from clear cut (no pun intended), even in PA.
Moving to a quote based on OH law (where OP resides) from a link posted upthread. "A tree is owned by the property owner of the property upon which the tree grows. Ohio law states that the property line extends upward toward the sky. The limbs of the tree extending onto another property do not extend ownership to that property owner. However, a tree that is growing on the property line is deemed jointly owned by both neighbors."

So, just because the tree overhangs OPs property, the tree itself and the overhanging branches are "owned" by the neighbor as the trunk is on the neighbor's property. Of course, OP has the right of self-help and can trim the offending branches if he so chooses. However, it also does seem quite clear that years-old dead branches (with documented knowledge of such) easily meet the burden of a known defect and the neighbor should ultimately be responsible for resulting damages if these were to fall on OP's property. Of course, any legal remedy is always uncertain, will likely be costly, and is likely to take way too much time to resolve, even if the law is on OP's side.

Again, I reiterate that the likely best solution here is a neighborly conversation and mutual resolution.
User avatar
vineviz
Posts: 13308
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 1:55 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by vineviz »

junior wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:33 am
vineviz wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:28 am
The OP has a dead branch above THEIR fence which means that portion of the tree is not, in fact, on the neighbor's property. It is on the OP's property.

If the tree topples over (i.e. crosses from the neighbor's property into the OP's property) that's a different set of facts from the one we have, in which the OP knows they have a dead branch on their own property.

This article, apparently from a local PA government reference book of some sort, makes it even more clear that a tree branch growing over a neighbor's property is a trespass and in PA OPs neighbor would be responsible for trespassing on OPs property and OP can pursue "various remedies" including reimbursement for cutting the tree branch down

https://doylestownpa.org/wp-content/upl ... operty.pdf

What op needs to do is try to find something like this for Ohio which clarifies who is responsible.
Note that the case being summarized (Jones v. Wagner ) in which the party onto whose property branches were growing was being sued for trimming those branches by the party who planted the trees. In short, the case affirms the right of the OP to trim the dead branch themselves.

The ruling says (emphasis added):
While there does exist some conflict regarding when a landowner may institute an action for injunctive or monetary relief against an adjoining landowner whose trees overhang the property line, one common thread connects all of these cases: the landowner whose land is encroached by the overhanging branches may trim the limbs to the extent of the encroachment.
I'd love to see a case in which someone in the OP's situation successfully won a legal action to recoup the expense of removing the branch. There may very well be many such cases in PA, but I can 't locate any .
"Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections than has been lost in corrections themselves." ~~ Peter Lynch
London
Posts: 435
Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:50 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by London »

Nothing like a tree thread to fire up bogleheads on a Monday morning.

In my view, I’d just pay to have the branch removed.
BogleFan510
Posts: 927
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:13 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by BogleFan510 »

alex_686 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:53 am
Californiastate wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:49 am
Jags4186 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:48 am Why wait to find out? Have someone come and cut the branch back to the property line. In fact, have them cut every single branch back to the property line.
The OP is looking to compel the tree owner to pay for the service.
Actually, the way that I read it the tree owner is trying to compel the OP to pay. And legally he may be in the right - it may be the OP's responsibility.

Which is why I suggested doing a hack job. Cut everything that overhangs the property line and leave a ugly tree. This might inspire the tree's owner to pay for it.
This is bad advice. If the hack job by an unqualified person kills the tree and it falls, he may be creating a huge liability risk. Hire a qualified arborist with insurance to properly trim it.

I feel this fals into the 'Bogleheads should be frugal, but not cheap, category.' Sometimes one needs to spend money to save money.
Last edited by BogleFan510 on Mon Sep 19, 2022 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
junior
Posts: 1277
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:14 pm
Contact:

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by junior »

vineviz wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 10:16 am
The ruling says (emphasis added):

True but here's what the court says is going to be the law in PA from then on in that opinion, at least in cases where that court has jurisdiction (It's one of two statewide appellate courts so presumably this is settled law in at least half of PA) (emphases added):
"we conclude that Pennsylvania law affords a full panoply of remedies to a landowner whose property is encroached by overhanging branches or tree limbs. First, an aggrieved landowner is entitled to exercise a self-help remedy by either trimming or lopping off the branches to the extent his property is encroached. Second, if the landowner has incurred reasonable expenses in the course of exercising a self-help remedy, he may recoup those expenses from the trespasser. Third, he may, on a trespass theory, seek equitable relief compelling the trespassing neighbor to remove the trees to the extent of the encroachment and seek appropriate incidental and consequential damages. We emphasize that Pennsylvania law requires no showing of physical harm or damage to the land before a possessor of land can enforce his right to freely enjoy unencumbered and exclusive use of property he rightfully possesses.
vineviz wrote:

I'd love to see a case in which someone in the OP's situation successfully won a legal action to recoup the expense of removing the branch. There may very well be many such cases in PA, but I can 't locate any .
I don't believe any ruling by a small claims court would turn up on the Internet unless covered by a journalist. So I don't know how one would search for such a case.

At any rate, I think we can agree that employees of the legislative branch of PA believe someone would win such a legal action, since on further review the reference material I provided is sourced from this PA web site:

https://www.lgc.state.pa.us/deskBook.cfm
Last edited by junior on Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:21 am, edited 10 times in total.
User avatar
enad
Posts: 218
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2022 2:50 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by enad »

CtScrtDsse wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 8:30 am Hello,

First, thank you for everyone's advice. I am continually learning from this website and have been thankful for all of the advice everyone has to offer.

Our neighbor has a large tree and a very large tree branch is overhanging our property...it's dead and could fall anytime, although it's been like that for over two years. It is overhanging our fence and definitely will do damage when it falls. Who's responsibility is the branch? Our neighbor would like us to pay to have it cut down. Not sure where we should look for information. I don't want to call the insurance (we've had a lot of trouble with our insurance and they've made it clear that if we file another claim for anything, they will drop us). Not sure if it matters where we live either (Ohio).

Thank you for the help and guidance.
My experience with it in 5 states is that you are responsible for anything overhanging your property line and bear the costs to cut/trim it back. You cannot however do anything that would harm or kill the tree and if you did you could be sued. Strange but true. Happened to a friend. The neighbor would not trim any of his trees and when my friend cut 5 of them back to the property line, one died and he was sued and lost the case in court. He had to pay to remove the tree and replace it and the neighbor bought one that was almost as tall and big as the original one which was very expensive. Now he can't wait to move.

My dad had a different experience with a neighbor who had a tree that was leaning towards his property. He asked the neighbor to trim it back and the neighbor refused. My dad got a hold of his insurance company who came out to inspect the tree and they wrote a letter to the neighbors insurance company and explained the situation who then contacted the neighbor and told them they would jack up his rates if he did not trim the tree back. Then the guy trimmed his tree back.

I would cut the tree branch back to the property line (but no further). Take plenty of before/after pictures. If you want to play it safe, hire an arborist to inspect the branch and get it in writing that the branch is indeed dead and ask if the tree would survive if you cut the branch back to the property line. Get it in writing. This may help you later if you are sued. There is always one guy in the neighborhood like your neighbor.
Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat
theplayer11
Posts: 1814
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:55 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by theplayer11 »

never affected by this, but not sure the reasoning on why OP should be responsible for a tree that has overgrown onto his property. The tree owner, imo, should be responsible for anything that he owns that is interfering with a neighbors property.
So if a homeowner plants something too close to the property line and it overflows into neighbors property, the neighbor is legally responsible for any pruning or clean up? That does not sound right, certainly not fair.
Mr. Rumples
Posts: 2236
Joined: Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:16 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by Mr. Rumples »

Its really up to state law unless the state has devolved the authority to the locality (there is a term for this, but alas, I forgot). It is also a complex area of law. See these discussions:

https://ofbf.org/2015/10/01/qa-about-tr ... ty-rights/

https://tingen.law/2018/brief-overview- ... 9/#anchor3

I have 12 oaks and other trees (have had several removed). I keep the trees thinned out with records from the tree trimmers in case there is a problem. In this instance, I would find out what the law is, and then if able, hire a company with an urban forester or arborist, get a written report and get it trimmed back.

I would ensure the company is insured and has professionals just in case the neighbor objects; this might cost more. I had my tree company come out and remove a branch that fell but got stuck high up, but in a location where it could fall on the house. The cost was $300, but all they had to do was climb, they did not need to use a bucket or ropes and pulleys.
Last edited by Mr. Rumples on Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
“To be a Virginian either by Birth, Marriage, Adoption, or even on one’s Mother’s side, is an Introduction to any State in the Union, a Passport to any Country, and a Benediction from Above.”—Anonymous
exodusNH
Posts: 5368
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:21 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by exodusNH »

theplayer11 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:10 am never affected by this, but not sure the reasoning on why OP should be responsible for a tree that has overgrown onto his property. The tree owner, imo, should be responsible for anything that he owns that is interfering with a neighbors property.
So if a homeowner plants something too close to the property line and it overflows into neighbors property, the neighbor is legally responsible for any pruning or clean up? That does not sound right, certainly not fair.
Right and fair vs legal are two different concepts.

In NH (which is my only experience), a falling tree is your problem the moment it crosses your property line, in real time.
User avatar
Gort
Posts: 812
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2007 5:07 pm
Location: Idaho

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by Gort »

London wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 10:28 am Nothing like a tree thread to fire up bogleheads on a Monday morning.
I agree, but it's much better than another "How much international stock should I hold?" or "I'm leaving Vanguard because..." thread. But alas, methinks we will not have to wait too long for those threads to resurface. :sharebeer
Normchad
Posts: 4248
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:20 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by Normchad »

London wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 10:28 am Nothing like a tree thread to fire up bogleheads on a Monday morning.

In my view, I’d just pay to have the branch removed.
Exactly. It’s just a branch. Take care of it.

Maintaining good relationships with your neighbors is important. Don’t go to war over a single branch.
scophreak
Posts: 302
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:17 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by scophreak »

exodusNH wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:26 am
theplayer11 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:10 am never affected by this, but not sure the reasoning on why OP should be responsible for a tree that has overgrown onto his property. The tree owner, imo, should be responsible for anything that he owns that is interfering with a neighbors property.
So if a homeowner plants something too close to the property line and it overflows into neighbors property, the neighbor is legally responsible for any pruning or clean up? That does not sound right, certainly not fair.
Right and fair vs legal are two different concepts.

In NH (which is my only experience), a falling tree is your problem the moment it crosses your property line, in real time.
I have no specific knowledge of NH laws, but from my quick reading it does seem consistent with other states that have been discussed here. To be clear, there is a distinction between a healthy tree/branches and a diseased/dead tree and branches. According to https://www.nhmunicipal.org/town-city-a ... -revisited the NH Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that:

"We believe that a landowner should be held responsible for a decayed or defective tree that he permits to harm another because it would be an 'inherent injustice' to allow a landowner to 'escape all liability for serious damage to his neighbors merely by allowing nature to take its course.'" The Court retreated from its language in Belhumeur and announced a new rule, "…a landowner who knows or should know that his tree is decayed or defective and fails to maintain the tree reasonably is liable for injuries proximately caused by the tree, even when the harm occurs outside of his property lines. However, a landowner does not have a duty to consistently and constantly check all trees for nonvisible decay. Rather, the manifestation of the tree's decay must be readily observable in order to require a landowner to take reasonable steps to prevent harm."

Again, this is pertinent AFTER a tree or branches fall and cause damage. Whether a property owner can be compelled to proactively mitigate future damage or is liable for the cost of doing so is a different discussion.
KESP
Posts: 303
Joined: Sat May 07, 2016 8:24 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by KESP »

I live in Connecticut, and I have had three trees owned by my neighbor fall into our property or onto our house. We were stuck paying for the damage on all of these. This was all confirmed with our insurance company. That said, they had a clearly dead tree in their backyard. I called them up and said we cannot afford another claim on our homeowners and would they please cut it down. They did agree to do this, but if they did not, I was going to send them a certified letter saying that should that tree fall and cause damage on our property that this is notice that we will file a negligence claim against their homeowners insurance because they had prior notice of the defect. That is what I was advised to do.
FellsGuy
Posts: 98
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2021 1:30 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by FellsGuy »

I have a very large tree that had a huge branch hanging over the neighbors garage. I took it upon myself while having other work done to have that limb removed and internally it was already about to give way. One of the limbs left a dinner plate dent on their lawn and knocked some flowers off a shrub. I got a bill for that and a complaint about losing the shade over their driveway. And these are friendly neighbors. So whatever you do no good deed goes unpunished so try to get buy in from the neighbors first even if on your dime.
JackoC
Posts: 3728
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:14 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by JackoC »

scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:51 am
exodusNH wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:26 am
theplayer11 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:10 am never affected by this, but not sure the reasoning on why OP should be responsible for a tree that has overgrown onto his property. The tree owner, imo, should be responsible for anything that he owns that is interfering with a neighbors property.
So if a homeowner plants something too close to the property line and it overflows into neighbors property, the neighbor is legally responsible for any pruning or clean up? That does not sound right, certainly not fair.
Right and fair vs legal are two different concepts.

In NH (which is my only experience), a falling tree is your problem the moment it crosses your property line, in real time.
I have no specific knowledge of NH laws, but from my quick reading it does seem consistent with other states that have been discussed here. To be clear, there is a distinction between a healthy tree/branches and a diseased/dead tree and branches. According to
I would guess this is generally true. Most of the responses assume the tree is basically OK. Then I would say the practical answer is you cut that branch of have somebody do it. Once it's a major branch that's dead that's a problem with the tree and not so clear anymore. We have had this issue with the big tree just behind our property whose branches put most of our (small, urban) backyard in shade. It's not been in good shape for years now, lost a lot of major branches in a storm 10 yrs ago, which came down in our yard and the owner of neighboring property (an LLC, owning a small apartment building) had it trimmed and cleaned up no argument. But while it's still alive enough to be pushing our wooden fence (now noticeably out of alignment due to it) it's also got more dead parts. We haven't approached the LLC about removing it but we might, in a non-legalistic way with the directly next door neighbor also affected by it, we've discussed with them proposing a 1/3 each split on the cost of removing it (which won't be cheap or easy, in an urban block 'donut hole', no crane can drive up to it and it's pretty big). But in such a situation it makes no common sense to say that's solely our problem for the effect it has on our property, and I doubt it would be the legal outcome if it came to it. Branch of healthy tree overhanging our property cutting of which wouldn't kill the tree? Different story. I've cut loads of smaller branches off that tree over 30 years.
exodusNH
Posts: 5368
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:21 pm

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by exodusNH »

scophreak wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:51 am
exodusNH wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:26 am
theplayer11 wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 11:10 am never affected by this, but not sure the reasoning on why OP should be responsible for a tree that has overgrown onto his property. The tree owner, imo, should be responsible for anything that he owns that is interfering with a neighbors property.
So if a homeowner plants something too close to the property line and it overflows into neighbors property, the neighbor is legally responsible for any pruning or clean up? That does not sound right, certainly not fair.
Right and fair vs legal are two different concepts.

In NH (which is my only experience), a falling tree is your problem the moment it crosses your property line, in real time.
I have no specific knowledge of NH laws, but from my quick reading it does seem consistent with other states that have been discussed here. To be clear, there is a distinction between a healthy tree/branches and a diseased/dead tree and branches. According to https://www.nhmunicipal.org/town-city-a ... -revisited the NH Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that:

"We believe that a landowner should be held responsible for a decayed or defective tree that he permits to harm another because it would be an 'inherent injustice' to allow a landowner to 'escape all liability for serious damage to his neighbors merely by allowing nature to take its course.'" The Court retreated from its language in Belhumeur and announced a new rule, "…a landowner who knows or should know that his tree is decayed or defective and fails to maintain the tree reasonably is liable for injuries proximately caused by the tree, even when the harm occurs outside of his property lines. However, a landowner does not have a duty to consistently and constantly check all trees for nonvisible decay. Rather, the manifestation of the tree's decay must be readily observable in order to require a landowner to take reasonable steps to prevent harm."

Again, this is pertinent AFTER a tree or branches fall and cause damage. Whether a property owner can be compelled to proactively mitigate future damage or is liable for the cost of doing so is a different discussion.
My SO found this out when her neighbor's otherwise healthy trees were knocked down and crushed her brand-new 4Runner. The neighbor was under no obligation to do so, but they did split her deductible with her. This how she learned that once a falling tree crosses the plane of the property line, you have found yourself the proud owners of a fallen tree.
Normchad
Posts: 4248
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:20 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by Normchad »

FellsGuy wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 12:07 pm I have a very large tree that had a huge branch hanging over the neighbors garage. I took it upon myself while having other work done to have that limb removed and internally it was already about to give way. One of the limbs left a dinner plate dent on their lawn and knocked some flowers off a shrub. I got a bill for that and a complaint about losing the shade over their driveway. And these are friendly neighbors. So whatever you do no good deed goes unpunished so try to get buy in from the neighbors first even if on your dime.
You sound like a good neighbor. We should all strive to be good, considerate neighbors.
arf30
Posts: 838
Joined: Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:55 am

Re: Neighbor's overhanging tree: who's responsibility?

Post by arf30 »

We moved to a house recently that was surrounded by trees on neighboring properties with lots of overhanging branches, some problematic. I had a tree service come and trim everything back to the property line after checking with the town on the local laws. Never contacted the neighbors about it and they've never mentioned it.
Post Reply