The roots of our neighbor's tree are damaging our yards. What can we do?

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Question:

Our neighbor has two willow trees that were planted by a former owner. The trees have grown out of proportion -- the trees' runners have grown under the fence lines into the five neighboring lots, causing property damage to decks and planter boxes. What recourse do the five homeowners have?

Answer:

In all states, a homeowner may trim the branches or roots of a neighbor's tree up to the property line. You must, however, stay on your property to do the trimming, and and make sure not to injure or cut down the neighbor's tree. Perhaps the five neighboring property owners will want to share the cost of hiring a tree service to trim the tree's runners back to the tree owner's property line. To maintain good neighborly relations, check in with the tree owner before starting to trim. The tree owner may be grateful to have some help, because tree trimming can be an expensive proposition.

If the tree itself has grown into the boundary lines, ownership may be shared among the neighbors, in which case the responsibility for the tree shifts, and you may need to share removal costs. And if the trees are interfering with power lines or sewers, the local utility company might help with the task and cost of removal.

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