In the office, we frequently get phone calls asking about proper tree etiquette. It is not uncommon that a tree can be physically rooted on one property, yet causing a nuisance or be potentially hazardous to a neighbor. The question we hear from homeowners over and over again is, “Who is responsible for this tree?”

By law, a homeowner is allowed to trim branches on their neighbors tree which overhang onto their property. You are not allowed to go onto your neighbor’s property or destroy the tree.

It’s your responsibility, as a property owner, to keep a watchful eye on your neighboring trees. It is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your property. The general rule is, that, unless the neighbor knew or should have known that his tree was unsafe, he is not responsible even if it hurt you or your family member or damaged your property.

Our courts follow the old common law: It’s your property, so take care of it, unless you can prove your neighbor was negligent.

When in doubt follow the golden rule: Be a good neighbor.