Property Line Debates: Who Is Responsible For Removing A Dead Tree?

Posted on: 30 December 2014

Large trees often tower over more than one property, especially when the tree is planted close to the property line. Unfortunately, this can often result in a heated debate whenever the topic of removing these trees comes up. In many cases, neighbors may struggle to determine who is responsible for paying for the tree removal, and may even argue over whether or not the other neighbor has the right to remove the tree in the first place. To make things even more complicated, in some cases, neither neighbor may prove to be the responsible party. If you are dealing with a similar situation, taking a moment to review the information below may just help you to settle this age old dispute.

When You Are Responsible For Removing The Tree

Any tree that is anchored in your yard, meaning that the root system originates in your yard, is your responsibility to care for. If a tree dies or becomes diseased, it will be your responsibility to have this tree removed before it results in any property damage or personal injury. If you fail to live up to this responsibility, you can be held legally liable for any damages that result from falling branches or the spread of plant diseases to neighboring properties.

When Your Neighbor Is Responsible For Removing The Tree

Unfortunately, in most cases, you will not be able to dictate whether or not your neighbor chooses to remove a tree from their property. In fact, the law even restricts your right to trim a tree that is anchored on another person's property, even if this tree hangs over your yard. However, there is an exception to this rule. If a dead or diseased tree threatens to fall on your home or property, you may be able to compel your neighbor to remove the tree. If your neighbor does not agree with this removal, you may need to petition the city to enforce compliance.

When A Third Party Is Responsible For Removing The Tree

Utility companies are typically granted easements that allow them to utilize a portion of your property for the installation and maintenance of electrical lines. While these easements provide the utility companies with certain privileges, they also assign them certain responsibilities. These responsibilities may include the removal of a dead tree if the the tree is located within a few feet of an active power line. In this situation, neither neighbor would need to cover the cost of tree removal because the cost would be covered by the utility company.

In Conclusion

There are arborist laws in place to help you deal with situations just like the one described above. Unfortunately, the average citizen is not always aware of these laws and therefore may still find themselves arguing over the financial responsibility of removing a dead tree from their property. If the information above is not enough to help you and your neighbor settle your dispute, contacting your local arborist association or a reputable tree removal company like Affordable Tree Care in your area can help you to clarify your local laws and ultimately determine who is responsible for removing the tree.