Who’s tree is it anyways?

Depending on perspective, trees can be beautiful providers of shade and life, or they can be a nuisance. Homeowners are often faced with an issue of overhanging branches from the neighbors and it can be quite troublesome to manage. Who’s job is it to take care of the tree? Here are a few scenarios that you may or may not know.

  1. If the trunk of the tree is on your neighbor’s lot then it is your neighbor’s job to trim the tree, however, any part of the tree that crosses into your side of the property, you also have the right to cut.
  2. Part two, trunk of the tree is in your neighbor’s lot and the tree falls down and destroys part of your property, who pays? Surprisingly, it would likely be your responsibility to pay for the damages or it could possibly be split between you and your neighbor. HOWEVER, if you serve a notice prior to the occurrence prior to the damages: one day, thirty days, half a year, a year ago, any duration prior saying “Hey, please take care of your tree as it appears to have possible dangers of falling and destroying my property.” With this notice, the neighbor is now completely responsible for all damages.
  3. There is a tree trunk right on the property line between the properties and you think it is irritating and you cut the whole tree down without your neighbor’s consent. Civil Code 3346 allows your neighbor to receive double damages for negligent removal of tree without consent of owner. If that was a $50,000 oak tree you just cut down, guess what, you now owe your neighbor $100,000 in damages because you did not get his consent to remove the tree

In short, the ownership of the tree is dictated by where the trunk is located. To be safe, always get written consent from neighbors before doing anything.



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