When A Tree Occupies Two Properties: Your Tree Responsibilities

Posted on: 6 February 2017

There comes a time in the life of many property owners when they discover that a tree that was planted on the property line by former residents has overgrown its boundaries. The tree could be mostly on your property, but planted by someone on an adjoining property, or it could be mostly on the neighbor's property, but planted by previous owners of your abode. When the tree appears to be a nuisance to either you or the neighbors, who is supposed to take care of it? Here are your "tree" options.

Consult with the Neighbors Regarding What to Do with the Tree

If you are on good speaking terms with the neighbors, ask them what they think all of you together should do with this tree. They may decide that it can be removed, and then it has to be determined who has the right or privilege to remove it. Your neighbors may also decide that they do not want to excise the tree from the property, but they are willing to trim it and keep it under control to keep your yard neat and tidy. Usually, reasonable people are reasonable about what to do with "common property" things, such as trees that border on two properties. (If you cannot reach a reasonable solution with your neighbors, be sure to take them to court before you remove a tree that may not be yours to remove.)

If the Neighbors Give You Full Rights to the Tree

If your neighbors say that the tree is absolutely yours to do with as you please, get it in writing. Then you can call a tree removal service to help you remove the tree and fill in the hole. It might even be best for you to install a fence to establish property lines after the tree is removed so that there is no question as to how much of the tree was this or that person's responsibility. The tree service may even check with you and your neighbors to make sure it is alright to remove the tree, since the work will take place on both properties.

If You and the Neighbors Just Trim the Tree

If your neighbors (and you) decide that you can live with this tree occupying both properties but agree that it needs frequent maintenance, you can perform your maintenance on the section of the tree that is on your property, and the neighbors can do the same with the tree section on theirs. Just to make things easy, call a tree service every time to do the maintenance on your section. That way, you have a third party involved and receipts to show that you did your part.