Can My Neighbor Force Me to Cut Down or Trim My Trees?

Can My Neighbor Force Me to Cut Down or Trim My Trees?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While you may treasure a tree, your neighbor may lament it.

From branches that inch over the property line to tall trees that block a view, dealing with plants that affect multiple properties is tricky!

That was the case for Phyllis J., a Davey blog reader from Arizona who wrote about a palm tree that sits on the corner of her lot. Phyllis said, “My neighbors are complaining that they can’t see around the corner when they are driving and have been advocating to have the maintenance guys come and prune it.”

Does a neighbor have the right to trim or cut down a tree on someone else’s property? Read on to find out what the rules are for neighbors and trees.

Rules for Trimming or Cutting Down a Tree on Someone Else’s Property

First thing’s first! Start with the best solution that can make everyone happy. Walk over, talk to your neighbor and work out a solution. But, if you want to arm yourself with knowledge before doing that, here’s what you should know about neighbors cutting trees.

Can I cut down a tree on someone else's property?

No! Crossing property lines to trim or cut down a tree is not something you or your arborist can do. Neither you nor your arborist may go onto a neighbor’s property or destroy the tree. If you do go onto a neighbor’s property or harm the tree, you could be liable for double or triple the value of the tree!

If the tree trunk sits entirely in your neighbor’s yard, they’re the owner. Just like you wouldn’t go onto your neighbor’s property to tidy up any of their other property, the same goes for their tree.

If the tree is on someone else’s property, you should not go onto someone else’s property to alter the tree as there could be legal and financial consequences.

Can I cut tree branches that hang over into my yard?

It is always best to check if there are any local laws about cutting a neighbor’s trees, but generally, most state and local laws permit you to prune parts of your neighbor’s tree that cross the property line into your side without asking your neighbor. You may only prune up to the property line and must stay on your property. Also, you can still be held liable if the pruning destroys or harms the tree.

Can my neighbor force me to cut my trees or cut my trees down?

This goes back to the submission from Pyllis—can a neighbor force her to prune or cut down the palm tree?

If the tree’s trunk sits wholly on Phyllis’s property, it’s up to her to decide what happens to the tree. And, since this case isn’t about a tree that’s posing harm or impeding on their property at all, the neighbor cannot force Phyllis to cut it down.

However, this question can get more complicated if the tree poses a hazard or danger. Homeowners must inspect trees and ensure their trees are safe. Homeowners can be held liable if they fail to remove a dangerous tree and it causes damages.

If you think there’s a chance your neighbor’s tree could fall or pose a threat to your yard, check with your city government to see what action you can take.

Is there a rule for trees on the property line?

Generally, if a tree trunk sits on both you and your neighbor’s property, is owned by both of you, and you are both responsible for the tree. To remove the tree, both property owners must consent. Again, these laws can differ in each state, so be sure to look up the exact law in your area.

If you both own the tree, any decisions made about the tree should be settled between you and your neighbor. If you can’t come up with a win-win solution, consider working with a mediator.

Have a pruning plan worked out with your neighbor? Contact a Davey arborist to get started and receive a free pruning consultation.

*The information above does not constitute legal advice. Before you act or rely on the information above, you should consult your applicable state and local laws or speak with an attorney. Davey disclaims all liability for actions taken or not taken based on the above information.

  • The Tree Doctor November 5, 2018 > Hi William, Generally speaking, If the trunk of the tree in question is entirely on your neighbor’s property, they own the tree and can prune branches on their side of the property line as long as they do not cross onto your property. You have the right to prune branches that grow across the property line onto your property without your neighbor’s permission. If the trunk of the tree straddles the property line, you both share ownership. In the best interests of the trees, it is important for neighbors to work together when considering the care of trees that affect both owners. I highly recommend having a certified arborist come out and take a look so they can provide you with the most accurate answer after seeing the location of the tree in person. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area. Here is a resource that can help with hiring a certified arborist: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Best of luck to you, William.
  • William Martinez October 27, 2018 >Can my neighbor trim branchs from there tree that over hang in my property with out my permission.in colorado.
  • The Tree Doctor August 21, 2018 >Hi Mary Jo, If the tree or plant resides entirely on your property, your neighbor cannot force you to prune or alter the tree or plant unless there is a safety issue. They also cannot walk onto your property and cut your tree or plants. There would be legal ramifications to that. I would suggest having a conversation with your neighbor and working out a resolution that works for both of you. Best of luck to you, Mary Jo.
  • mary jo wyman wyman August 14, 2018 >can my neighbor come on to my property and cut my trumpet tree flowers and greens?
  • The Tree Doctor July 23, 2018 > Hi Ruth, The property line extends upward into the air from the ground. Anything on your neighbor’s side of the line belongs to your neighbor. Right-of-way easements also have their rules as designated by the controlling entity. It is best to contact a certified arborist and have them come out and look at the situation for you. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area. Here is a resource that can help with hiring a certified arborist: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Ruth.
  • Ruth Northam July 21, 2018 >Can a neighbor trim my trees on my propery line That are by a road. But Not on their property. Ckearly the trunk is on my property. And he said he needed clearing for a better view pulling out his driveway. But was working long ways from their driveway. And ripping the limbs down with a backhoe bucket.
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