How to Navigate Tree Problems With Your Neighbors During Home Improvement

Saad Iqbal | 🗓️Modified: April 12, 2023 | ⏳Read Time: 4 min | 👁Post Views: 51

Many homeowners undertaking home improvements eventually turn their attention to their yards. After all, if you renovate your home’s interior, you might as well let your yard set the scene. However, properties with trees can sometimes cause problems, especially when you and your neighbors have differing views about what should be done with them. If you want to be well-informed as land transformation gets underway, here are a few actions you might need to take.

Speak to Legal Experts

Tree experts like Joe Samnik, forensic arborist for law firms and the general public, can provide helpful advice on navigating tree property disputes. If you’re having trouble coming to a peaceful resolution about a shared tree on your boundary or have another tree-related concern, forensic arborists can typically be the best people to rely on for advice.

While you might not need to utilize their services as a first course of action, having their contact details can be helpful if your situation escalates.

Talk to Your Neighbors

You don’t always need to take legal action immediately after encountering a tree-related issue affecting your neighbors. Whether you want to fell a tree on a shared boundary or discuss a neighbor’s tree limiting the enjoyment of your own property, you can sometimes achieve the desired results by having a friendly chat with the parties involved.

Write down information about the tree or trees involved, describe the problem, and outline your proposed solution. You can then visit your neighbor if you feel comfortable and provide them with your notes while talking face-to-face about the issue. You might be surprised by how agreeable homeowners can be when they learn something on their property affects someone else’s ability to enjoy theirs.

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Learn Your Legal Rights and Obligations

When you start making home improvements, it never hurts to learn your legal rights before you haul your chainsaw out of storage. You might be able to tackle more tree tasks than you think without doing anything your neighbors will disagree with.

For example, you are within your rights to trim the branches of your neighbors’ trees if they hang over your property line. You just have to ensure you remain within your boundary and don’t destroy the trees. Otherwise, you may be liable for up to three times their value.

You must also ensure that any tasks you undertake on your property, such as digging up the ground for landscaping or building a structure, don’t kill or injure your neighbors’ trees. If that happens, you may be held liable.

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Alter Your Plans

You won’t always be able to remove or trim a tree in a way that would benefit your property. Your neighbors do still hold some rights regarding trees that border your property. If taking legal action will blow out your renovation budget, or you want to keep things civil with your neighbors, it can sometimes be easier to alter your plans. This might involve building a fence in front of a tree rather than removing it or changing your plans for where you’d like to set up your pergola or entertainment area.

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