Trees can be a beautiful feature on your property, but they can also cause legal problems for a homeowner. If the limbs of your tree hang over your neighbor’s property or block a view, your neighbor can pursue legal recourse. Likewise, if you have trees planted between your property and your neighbor’s property, and the roots grow into your neighbor’s sewer lines, you could be legally liable for the damages.
If you are experiencing neighborly issues because of a tree or other landscaping, read on to learn more about your options for conflict resolution.
Trees and Trespassing
According to the Illinois State Bar Association, a property owner is entitled to the undisrupted possession and enjoyment of their property and the ability to use it as they choose. This is, however, subject to the rights of others. These rights extend to both underground and above ground property rights.
Trespassing, as pertaining to the above scenarios, includes interfering with a neighbor’s enjoyment of their property, whether physical damage occurs or not. Something as simple as allowing a tree to intrude across your neighbor’s property line could be technically classified as trespassing.
Solutions for Problem Trees
Illinois law allows a homeowner to cut off branches from a neighbor’s tree if the branches are trespassing across the legal property line. This is providing that they use reasonable care in removing the branches and do not trespass in the process of doing the trimming. It is recommended that the neighbor who wishes to trim the tree first give some notice to the tree owner to avoid conflict escalation.
If the trespassing tree causes property damage, or if the removal of trespassing branches will cost a considerable amount of money, a neighbor can take the responsible homeowner to court. For the purpose of getting a court order to resolve the problem, the offended party can even go so far as to sue the homeowner.
Jointly Owned Trees
If the tree in question is right on the property line and neither current homeowner is responsible for the original planting of the tree, then it is considered to be jointly owned. You do not have the right to cut it down without your neighbor’s permission, nor can he/she cut it down without yours. However, if the branches of the tree are hanging over your side of the property line and may pose a hazard, you do not need permission to remove the branches.
Be a Good Neighbor – Communication is Key
Preventing the problem in the first place may be the best solution for all parties involved. You should talk to your neighbors prior to planting trees or anything else near the boundary of your property. If your neighbor has done something to their property that can possibly cause problems in the future, you should first try to discuss the situation with them.
If a tree that is entirely on your property causes damage to your neighbor’s property, you will be liable. You have the duty to be responsible and take any necessary steps to prevent your tree from causing damage to your neighbor’s roof or any other part of their property.
If you are having issues with your neighbor regarding who owns a tree or any other property dispute, speak with an experienced real estate attorney that can help you sort it all out.
CONTACT Sherer Law Offices today for a legal consultation.