Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

Tree roots uplifting neighbor's driveway

My tree is next to my nieghbor's drieway. She claims the roots are causing problems on her sewer line and uplifting the asphalt. There is damage to the aphalt, but we live in the hills and there are other trees near the driveway. Who is responsible for the cost of repair to the asphalt and root pruning? She would like me to cut down the tree but I don't want to because of the aesthetics and shade it offers.

Asked on 7/13/05, 5:25 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law
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Re: Tree roots uplifting neighbor's driveway

You are responsible for root damage done to a neighbor's property by trees that stand on your property. It is a form of trespass, and legal principles applicable to trespass apply here too.

In addition, the tree might be deemed a private nuisance.

The proof required, and the remedies available, differ somewhat between trespass and private nuisance. The bottom line would be, however, that you could be liable for past harm done and be required to remove the tree or, if botanically feasible, to cut the offending roots.

If there is uncertainty as to which tree or trees is/are causing the damage, the expert opinion of a licensed arborist would be needed by one or both parties to a lawsuit. The arborist(s) could also advise on whether cutting roots or some remedy short of removal of the tree (or trees) would be feasible.

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7/13/05, 8:27 pm

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