Trees are these majestic examples of nature that stretch not just upwards, yet outwards. Their branches and their leaves reach in all directions, creating a beautiful, humbling source of shade and beauty. What happens though, when they stretch a little too far? It is difficult, if not impossible, to dictate how a tree will grow, or in what direction it will grow. This means, sometimes they can grow and reach places they are not welcomed in. Places such as your neighbor’s yard. Likewise, your neighbor’s trees can tend to do the same. When this happens, what is the right course of action to take?
First off, you need to know your property lines. If you are not sure, due to the lack of a clear marker of property, you may need to call in someone from the city to determine it. Regardless of where the base of the tree is, what matters is the parts that extend into your property.
Property boundaries work much like an invisible wall. They go straight across the ground, down beneath the dirt, and upwards past the top of the trees. While you can’t charge airplanes for flying over your house because of this, you can handle any tree limbs or bushes that intrude on your property.
So what should you do if you find your neighbors trees are not sticking to their side of the line? The first course of action would be to talk to your neighbor directly. Talk to them about having the branches trimmed or removed. After all, you didn’t put the tree there, so why should you have to do it? If they refuse to remove the branches however, you have the legal right to do it yourself, as long as you follow two conditions.
- You can not modify the tree in any way past the boundary line, without permission from the property owner.
- You can not harm the tree itself. If the branch removal harms or destroys the tree, you will be held liable for the damage, and potentially the cost of the tree.
What, however, if you don’t trim intruding branches and they cause damage to your property? Say a storm comes through and causes one to land on your vehicle. In this instance, it is not automatically the neighbors fault. Many times, an investigation will be done on the tree. If the tree has been well maintained, it may be labeled as a natural act, beyond the landowners control. If the tree has not been maintained however, it could be seen as the landowner’s negligence that caused the tree branch to fall on your vehicle.
But wait, what if a tree appears to be leaning dangerously toward your property? If you are afraid that a tree might be close to falling on your property, you do have legal rights to do something about it. If the tree is inspected and is found to be a danger to your property, you can file a claim against the landowner, in which they will have to get the tree removed themselves. Though it is better to speak to the landowner first about having it removed, to not damage relations with them.
A few more quick tips on trees and property lines that we’ll include here are:
* Fruit on a tree belongs to the owner of the tree, even if the branch holding the fruit is on your property. Different locations have different laws on fallen fruit, however.
* Leaves do not hold any legality on the issue. If a neighbors leaves are falling on your property, they are not liable for them, or any damage caused by them (such as clogged gutters).
* Trees that are located directly on a property line are considered common property of both properties.
In Daytona Beach and the surrounding areas, small communities are a common sight. From small town streets to fancy gated communities, it’s hard not to see a street with homes sitting in a neat little row. This is why it’s important to understand the laws that govern trees and property boundaries. They help keep your home safe from damages caused by tree branches, while also staying friends instead of rivals with the neighbors.