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Can you trim your neighbor’s tree?

| Apr 15, 2020 | Real Estate Law |

You built a new shed on one side of your property. It’s the right distance from the fence and you have all the right permits. After you built it, though, you noticed a problem. A sprawling tree on your neighbor’s property has heavy branches hanging over the shed. You’re worried that one of them is going to fall and destroy all of your hard work. Can you trim the neighbor’s tree?

This is a complex subject because it is certainly not your tree and your neighbor make take offense if you trim it. However, you can typically do whatever you’d like with the branches that hang over your property. You can cut them back to protect your shed. Even if the shed wasn’t there, you could trim them back just to keep it from dropping branches and leaves into your yard.

However, the key thing to remember is that all of your rights end at the property line. Do not trim the branches back all the way to the trunk. Even though they once extended onto your land, you can only cut them back as far as that line. Anything else belongs to your neighbor, and you can’t trim branches on their property.

On top of that, you can’t cut down a tree on your neighbor’s land. If you think it’s a hazard — maybe you’re worried that the whole tree will come down — you can talk to them about it. But you can’t go onto their property and cut or destroy it.

If you end up in any sort of dispute over real estate rights, property lines or boundaries, be sure you know your options.