SAN DIEGO, Ca., May 2, 2012 - The Hatfields and the McCoys probably started feuding because one of them ate an apple off of the other’s tree. Some olive branches you can chew on, or extend, depending upon how well you want to get along with your neighbor.
Does he have to clean the leaves if they fall on my property?
No. Not even if the leaves cause damage, like clogging gutters or pipes. You are responsible for cleaning up any leaves, berries, and other tree products that fall into your yard.
Remember, however, that you can trim branches, which might reduce the amount of what falls.
Consider building a fence, which might prevent some of the leaves from blowing onto your property.
Hangovers (tree-branches), not next day after imbibing…
You may trim branches and limbs that extend past the property line, but no further. You may not go onto your neighbor’s property. If you harm the tree, you could be found liable for value of the tree, or more. Some trees are considered ornamental or landmark, and may have an astonishing value. So use extreme caution when tree trimming!
He dug up his yard, and in the process killed a tree that is on my property. Am I entitled to compensation for the tree?
Yes. You have a right to damages. Trees can have significant value. Discuss compensation and resolution of this with your neighbor before you file a lawsuit, but do not discount the tree’s value.
A storm knocked his tree branch onto my property, damaging my property. Is he responsible for the damages?
Maybe. The law will look to see if he used reasonable care to maintain the tree branch. If a reasonable person could not have avoided this from happening in any way, then it will be deemed an Act of God, and your neighbor will not be responsible.
If a reasonable person would have or should have known that the tree branch posed a danger of falling, or that your neighbor never did reasonable inspections to maintain the tree branch, then the neighbor could be responsible for damages to your property.
Most of his tree hangs into my yard, but the trunk is in his yard. Who owns the tree?
He does. Where the trunk resides controls ownership. If the tree trunk falls across the property line, all of the property owners own the tree and share responsibility. Consent of all owners if required for the tree’s removal.
The sky is falling… I mean, the tree is falling. What should I do?
We must maintain the trees on our property. We have two duties: make reasonable inspections and take care to ensure the tree is safe. Thus, if an inspection shows that the tree could be dangerous, the owner is responsible for the tree removal. If the tree is not then removed, and it falls, and it causes damage, the owner will be responsible for the damage.
Step one is talking to your neighbor if you believe the tree is dangerous. If your neighbor does nothing, you might look into local laws and ordinances, and it is possible that you can involve local officials to remove the tree, at your neighbor’s expense.
You might also consider calling the utility companies. Their lines may be endangered and they might remove the tree.
Last, but not least: Can I eat his fruit?
No. The fruit belongs to the owner of the tree if it is on the tree, even if the fruit is on a limb or branch hanging on your property. You may be able to eat it if it falls onto your property, as laws are different in various places.
Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980. He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website. He is also available to speak to your group on numerous legal topics. Paul is the featured legal analyst on the Washington Times Radio, on the Andy Parks show, on Wednesdays at 5:15 P.M., and he is a columnist on the Washington Times Communities.
His book The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You is free to Maryland and Virginia residents and can be obtained by ordering it on his website; others can obtain it on Amazon.
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