my tree is growing over a neighbors fence, the neighbor is complaining the limbs are killing his tree. he wants me to cut all limbs protruding over his fence. i told him to cut them because i do not want to damage his fence or property .
1 Answer from Attorneys
The rule in NC is that wherever the roots are growing it is their tree. However, if the limbs of your tree grow onto your neighbor's land, he is privileged to trim the limbs that are encroaching.
The problem is, you do not want him doing aggressive tree trimming for you. With his permission, ask if you can come onto his property and trim the limbs, if you can do so safely without damaging his property or fence.
While you are not privileged to intentionally damage his fence (and I doubt that you would do so), accidents sometimes happen. If you wish to avoid liability, either be extra careful and make sure that you would be covered under your homeowner's policy or else hire a tree removal service that is insured against liabilities of this type and obtain your neighbor's permission for the tree service to come onto his property for the removal of the limbs.
If you do not do take steps to remove the limbs, then your neighbor can do so but only the limbs that are on his property. He cannot come onto your property. If he really decided to get nasty, he could take you to court and have the judge order you to remove the encoachment.
You are not really going to win this battle and you have to live next to the neighbor. If it were me, I would hire the tree service and make sure that they are insured against any property damage of this kind.