Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

My neighbor's tree may kill me, help!

My neighbor and I both have huge (3-4 stories high) pine trees in our back yards. I regularly have my tree trimmed. 1)sap and pine needles very messy, sticky & destructive. 2)Huge & heavy trees & bracnches above bedroom very dangerous if they should fall, would definitely destroy my home & harm/kill humans and pets. For five years I have asked him to trim and thin out the tree. He refuses. I know that I have a right to trim the branches that hang over on my property. So after 5 years of waiting, I told him months ago that I would trim my side of his tree in the Fall. Monday, I call to tell him the tree trimmers were coming on Thursday. He said, Ok. Thursday, he threatens us not to touch it, then he lies and says he never gave me permission on the phoone, then he adds that the bark beetles will kill the tree if it is trimmed before January. Lastly, he says its worth $100,000 and I better not touch it. The tree bracnhes are huge and very heavy and they hang about 10-12 feet over on my fence. That tree has got to be 50-70 feet tall. I am sad, angry, tired of cleaning and scared that even a large branch could crash onto my bedroom in a storm. I am a young widow w/kids and this guy tries to intimidate me. Please advise asap.

Asked on 10/29/06, 10:28 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Michael Olden Law Offices of Michael A. Olden

Re: My neighbor's tree may kill me, help!

get an atorney who will at least write a letter to put your neighbor straigt. if it dosent work, lititgation may be the only answer but common sense and the law may make him change his mind.

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Answered on 10/30/06, 12:26 pm


Re: My neighbor's tree may kill me, help!

You may have branches overhanging on your property removed. Notice him with a letter from counsel for keeping the peace sake, and have him talk to your attorney about it. Call me directly at 16192223504.

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Answered on 10/30/06, 5:33 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Re: My neighbor's tree may kill me, help!

You are largely correct about your right to trim the overhanging branches. At least one appellate court decision that has confirmed this right said that the trimming must be done in a "non-negligent manner" without giving much further advice as to what the heck that meant. If I were advising a client, I would tell the client to have the work planned and carried out by a licensed arborist, including etting the arborist to pur into writing an analysis of the situation including the arborist's opinion of the danger the tree presents, and the risks, if any, to the health of the tree from the proposed trimming. Then send the neighbor the bill. The basic law is that overhanging tree limbs are a trespass, and their owner is the trespasser, and is responsible for remediating the situation. Well, actually, in most situations I'd negotiate the cost aspects first, but this neighbor has already shown an unwillingness to assume his responsibility.

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Answered on 10/30/06, 12:40 am

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