Trees seem to be something that neighbors often disagree upon. For example neighbors worried about a tree falling on their home and causing damage or trees that may block views of a scenic property. In some cases the trees may actually help by blocking things that people would not want to see anyways like garbage and cutting down these trees can cause many disputes among neighbors. There is a lot to know about neighbors and trees.
An ordinance will typically be in place in areas that have views or places near an ocean. The view ordinance will require that the person who has the tree that is blocking such things keep it trimmed so that the view is no longer blocked or he will have to cut it down. The person who is having the issue with the tree is able to sue the tree owner in order to make the above happen. You will need to check your local tree ordinances because there may be some limitations in your area. These limitations could include:
- A particular type of tree may be exempt.
- If the tree is a certain distance away, it may be exempt.
- If the trees are owned by the city, they may be exempt.
Neighbors blocking your view. Is it legal?
This is a somewhat tricky question for anyone to answer. It mainly depends on where you live and what the ordinances are in your area. If you live in a city or town with an ocean, they will typically have ordinances. Actually making the ordinance happen can take a long time so sometimes it may be best to speak with your neighbor about the issue. Another option to consider is buying an easement from your neighbor. This is a written contract that means the person with the easement does not actually own the part of the land written about in the contract, but they have the right to use this part of the property for a purpose that will be stated in the contract. Getting an easement to protect a view would legally keep the neighbor from doing anything that could block the view. The last thing able to happen in these situations is that the neighbor is deliberately not trimming or keeping up their trees purposely out of spite. In this case, having your neighbor blocking your view is definitely not legal, but it can be quite difficult to prove.
There are many things that can cause a dispute between neighbors due to trees. some of these include:
- A tree on one neighbor’s property falling on the property of the other causing damage.
- A tree limb falling from the tree on the property of the other causing damage.
- The tree owner allowing the tree to uproot the neighbor’s fence.
There are many more other things that are able to happen as well.
Conflicts with trees and neighbors.
There are many unanswered questions about some things that can happen with trees. Some of these are things like if the neighbor has a tree that grows fruit and some of the limbs hang into your own property, are you able to eat that fruit? Since the actual tree belongs to the neighbor, you are not allowed to eat the fruit. If the leaves from your neighbor’s tree end up in your yard, you are not able to make a nuisance claim that would go anywhere because leaves are considered a natural product and you are responsible for cleaning any natural products in your yard. If most of the big tree hangs in your yard but the trunk is in the neighbor’s yard then it is technically the neighbor’s trees. Wherever the trunk is made that person the owner. If a storm knocks down a tree limb from your neighbor’s tree and the limb goes into your yard causing damage, there are a couple of things that would have to be considered before determining if it was the neighbor’s fault or a force of nature. If the neighbor took care of the tree and maintained it then if would just be considered an act of nature, but if there was something the neighbor could have done to prevent the limb from falling during a storm, then they would be at fault. If the neighbor’s trees look as though they may fall into your yard and you speak to your neighbor about it and they do nothing, you are able to file a nuisance claim. If it is found that the tree needs to be removed then the courts will remove it.
What rights you have when it comes to neighbors trees.
In most cases, homeowners can not make their neighbors trim or cut down their trees. Also, neighbors are able to put up as many trees as they would like to unless the trees are violating the view ordinances in your area, zoning laws, subdivision rules, or if there are any existing easements. Homeowners do not have any zoning rights to light, air, or view. If the city you live in does not have any view ordinances, the best thing you can do is be nice and friendly towards your neighbor and if anything ends up needing to be talked about because of the trees, it should go smoothly. If you have a Home Owners Association also known as HOA, that can be helpful in some instances. If you all together just would not want to have to deal with this type of situation, before purchasing a property check whether the city has ordinances, check if the property has a view easement and check the rules of the HOA.
Neighbor Disputes Over Trees
Neighbor disputes over property rights have existed in the U.S. for hundreds of years. Lawsuits between neighbors occur when one property owner seeks to eliminate or limit the unjustifiable actions of an adjoining landowner. When the actions unlawfully interfere with a neighbor possessory interest or right of full enjoyment, the owner seeking remedies may commence an action in court to recover damages.
Rights of Property Owners: Use and Enjoyment
Property owners have the right to peaceful possession, control, and enjoyment of their properties. They can exercise this right to the extent that it does not unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of an adjoining landowner’s property. Unreasonableness in this context involves conduct that represents an invasion of another landowner’s legal privacy interest. The actions can be intentional, negligent or reckless disregard to the neighbor’s privacy interest in his land.
Private Nuisance Issues
When a property owner interferes with a neighbor’s use and enjoyment of his land, it may give rise to a cause of action for a private nuisance. In order to file an action for nuisance, the plaintiff must have a possessory interest in the property to the extent that he has a right to the use and enjoyment of the land. The defendant’s interference must be substantial and unreasonable to establish a private nuisance action. Courts may use several factors, such as the severity of the conduct, frequency, and length of time, to determine whether the defendant’s actions are considered substantial and unreasonable in light of the circumstances surrounding the case. The plaintiff must have endured some sort of harm as a result of the interference to receive damages and meet this burden of proof in court. Here are common types of private nuisance disputes between adjoining landowners.
• Loud noises at inappropriate times
• Loud noises for extended periods of time
• Foul odors coming from neighbor’s property
• Smoke emanating from neighbor’s property
• Vapor or gases from neighbor’s property
• Trees and shrubbery that interfere with the comfortable use and enjoyment of property
Neighbor Disputes Trees: Use and Enjoyment
In certain nuisance disputes, a tree may constitute an obstruction to an adjoining landowner’s use and enjoyment of the property. Property owners are held to a standard of reasonable prudence in maintaining trees and shrubs. For example, a tree branch that encroaches on a neighbor’s property, such as hanging over the roof, imposing on the driveway, hindering natural light or blocking drainage systems, may give rise to legal action. When a tree is obstructing the neighbor’s view, this interference may create a private nuisance. The intrusion must be intentional or negligent on behalf of the owner’s property where the tree is located, excluding obstructions caused by unforeseen occurrences and natural causes. Courts consider several factors to determine whether the plaintiff has met the burden of proof of establishing the elements of a nuisance and damages resulting from a tree obstruction. A court may order an injunction requiring the removal or cutting down the tree in addition to monetary damages if the plaintiff proves an injury or decrease in property value.
Trespass Between Neighbors
A landowner or person with a possessory interest has the right of exclusive possession of the property. When the interference or obstruction involves a physical invasion of a neighbor’s property, it may give rise to a trespass action in tort law. When a tree encroaches on another’s property, the landowner does not have the automatic right to cut down the tree, if the action unlawfully trespasses on the neighbor’s property.
Neighbor Disputes Trees: Boundary Lines
When the trunk of a tree exists between two property lines, issues may arise between neighbors regarding the nuisance law and rights of either to cut down all or part of the tree. When limbs or branches hang over a landowner’s property, he has the right to trim or cut down the portion of the tree that doesn’t go beyond the property line. The owner may acquire the consent of the neighbor if the trimming of the tree or shrub creates a trespass on the adjoining landowner’s property.
Even though trees, shrubs and other vegetation add to the aesthetic value of properties and promote health and environmental sustainability, they can be the basis for legal disputes between neighbors. All landowners have the right to the comfortable use and enjoyment of their properties without unreasonable interference from neighbors. They have the right to the exclusive enjoyment of their properties. With a nuisance action, the plaintiff has the burden of proving the defendant’s conduct unreasonably interferes with his use and enjoyment of the property plus actionable damages, whereas, a trespass is established when the neighbor’s actions constitute an unjustifiable intrusion.