Those who live in major cities like Indianapolis experience it at least once. Your neighbor’s pesky tree always seems to grow into your yard, overhanging the property line. And they don’t seem eager to trim it.
So whose responsibility is it to trim the tree? We’ll answer this and other frequently asked questions about neighbors and trees.
What qualifies tree ownership?
The party that owns that land where the trunk of the tree stands, owns the tree regardless of how far it reaches across the property line. If the property line splits the tree’s trunk, it is considered a “boundary tree” shared by all parties. Removal of boundary trees is unlawful unless all parties are in agreement.
Can I trim my neighbor’s tree branches if they overhang the property line?
Yes, if a neighbor’s tree branches overhang your yard, it is lawful for you to trim branches up to the property line. You cannot lawfully trespass on a neighbor’s property to trim, damage, or destroy the tree. You will be found liable for the replacement cost of the tree, ranging from $500-$60,000 depending on the species of tree and landmark status.
Can I claim nuisance if my neighbor’s leaves keep blowing into my yard?
There are no grounds for a nuisance claim for blowing leaves. You may lawfully trim branches overhanging your property which may alleviate the problem.
My neighbors complain that the tree in my backyard is too tall. Do I have to trim it?
This is a situation where a little diplomacy goes a long way. If you are willing to trim your tree, let your neighbor express how much trimming they believe is sufficient. If you think the suggestion is reasonable, help your neighbor understand the importance of hiring a professional tree service to preserve the health of the tree. Suggest that you split the cost of the tree trimming.
If you are opposed to cutting your tree, make sure you aren’t violating the law by refusing to do so. Depending on where you live, your neighbor may have a case against you if: the tree poses a threat, violates a height ordinance, or interferes with the use or enjoyment of their property.
Am I entitled to compensation if my neighbor killed my tree?
You sure are. Anyone who harms or removes a tree without the express permission of the tree owners is liable for compensation of tree replacement.
My neighbor’s tree looks like it’s going to fall onto my house/property. What should I do?
The first step in this situation would be to express your concern to your neighbor about the hazardous tree. If they do not seem willing to trim or remove the tree, report the tree to local governing agencies. In some cases, the city will help the owner remove a hazardous tree.
Another route of getting the tree removed is through a utility company. If it threatens electrical equipment or is a fire hazard, the company may pay to have it removed.
Bottom Line: Talk it out, first.
Though you may have the ability to take legal action against your neighbors and their trees, it’s usually worth it to talk it out and keep the peace. Try to come to an agreement before involving the law. After all, even after a tree is removed, you and your neighbor remain.