Neighbor Threatening to Cut My Trees

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Latest post 10-06-2009 2:07 PM by ibrody. 7 replies.
  • 11-09-2007 1:11 PM

    Question [=?] Neighbor Threatening to Cut My Trees

    Hello,
    I am seeking some help on an issue that came up today. My neighbor sent over a tree cutter to my house to get permission to cut back trees that are overhanging on his property. A few years ago, my husband cut the trees, installed a 6 foot fence, and cleaned up the property line. The trees are large older pine trees and run along the property line. The neighbor wants to cut the branches off half of the tree, up about 10 feet from the top of the fenceline, which will make the tree appear split in half. There are no branches hanging on any part of his property, except those that are very high up. They are not near the house or obstructing the yard. They provide shade and shelter. He doesn't like trees shading his property because he says he can't grow grass on a narrow strip of dirt along my fenceline - despite the fact I told him I would purchase shade seed for the lawn. I told him not to touch my trees until I find legal answers to these questions .. I do not want him ruining these trees.

    My question is... are there any rules pertaining to how much a neighbor can trim another neighbors tree to prevent damaging the beauty and health tree (ie, height). I heard there may be some laws in NJ that were passed because of issues similar to this but am unable to find anything.

    Any assistance or links you can provide will be much appreciated.

    Lisa in New Jersey
  • 11-09-2007 2:54 PM In reply to

    re: Neighbor Threatening to Cut My Trees

    Typically, a neighbor can remove any portion of a tree which crosses his property line regardless of the height from the ground as long as the trimming does not kill the tree. See the link below for a legal article regarding New Jersey state law.

    http://www.njlawblog.com/2007/06/articles/residential-real-estate/rights-of-adjoining-property-owners-overhanging-tree-branches-and-encroaching-tree-roots/

    "Through two New Jersey Supreme Court cases, our Supreme Court recognized that encroaching branches may constitute an actionable nuisance and that a common law right exists to cut off overhanging branches to the property line, but no further."

    In Wegener v. Sugerman, 104 N.J.L. 26, 138 A. 699 (Sup. Ct. 1927) the New Jersey Supreme Court held that a landowner may lawfully cut overhanging branches of trees or hedges, but may not destroy the tree or hedge on the neighbor’s land. This form of self-help was found to be acceptable to the Court.

    So, basically, he has the right to trim the branches back to his property line. If the tree dies as a result, however, you may have the right to damages from him.
  • 11-09-2007 5:48 PM In reply to

    Ideas

    Take LOTS of good pictures of your trees right now, close up and distance. Pines are susceptible and react to injury. I have a row of my own pines, about 30 years old. Where I cut the limbs, they ‘sap bleed’ for years, and I am beginning to worry that I may lose one because it’s trunk has sap running down it from those limbs I cut ( only at a lower height where vehicles needed to drive underneath.

    You may not be able to prevent him from cutting the pine limbs, but I would let your neighbor know that you are concerned that removing many limbs will cause the tree to ‘sap bleed’, and ask him not to do anything that will lead to the death or serious injury to the trees. Other than that, say little.

    You certainly don’t have to let the tree cutter on to your property, and you don’t have to give him “your permission”. You can take photos of the tree cutter when he is cutting (from the neighbor's side) and tell him you will also hold him responsible if health damage or death to the trees occur.

    Sometimes tree cutting companies don’t like to get caught in the middle, and they may back off, you never know.
  • 10-05-2009 2:26 PM In reply to

    • ibrody
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 10-05-2009
    • NJ
    • Posts 3

    re: Neighbor Threatening to Cut My Trees

    I just had a situation yesterday where my neighbor DID cut my tree!!

    I live in a development of cluster homes - with a large tree inbetween my home and my neighbor on the right. It's my tree however.... I came home around dinnertime Sunday to find a good portion of my tree cut down- my neighbor admitted to doing this becasue 'some leaves were touching my roof'. He didn't talk with me about this prior- never expressed concerns- never even left me a note or contacted our Association to get an ok! My Association said it's not common property so it's a legal issue- the police department pretty much said the same thing. Not only is the tree completly off balance (foliage wise) now - my concern is long term. Will it survive such a harsh pruning, and if it doesn't who's financially responsible to remove/replace it? How can I prove the pruning killed the tree; what steps can I take to be proactive?  I took many pictures thus far - the police didn't feel a police report would benefit me.

    Is someone permitted to go on private property on their own doing- and potentially deface a tree like this?

     

  • 10-05-2009 7:17 PM In reply to

    Re: Neighbor Threatening to Cut My Trees

    The first two responses gave good suggestions.

    All I can add is:

    1 - Make sure the photos you take are dated.

    2 - Make sure you send written notice that he cuts at his own risk and you will hold him responsible for the cost of replacing a dead or damaged tree.

    3 - I like the idea of taking photos of the tree cutter. I'd start taking photos as soon as they drove up (truck, company name, license plate, workers and activity) and make sure they knew I was doing it.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 10-05-2009 7:20 PM In reply to

    re: Neighbor Threatening to Cut My Trees

    ibrody:
    Is someone permitted to go on private property on their own doing- and potentially deface a tree like this?

    The guy trespassed on your property to commit vandalism.

    If the police won't do anything, I don't know what to tell you.

    I suggest you start paving the way for a lawsuit against your neighbor if the tree dies. Take dated photos. Perhaps hire an arborist to inspect the tree and give you a written report on whether the pruning can kill the tree or not.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 10-06-2009 2:04 PM In reply to

    • ibrody
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 10-05-2009
    • NJ
    • Posts 3

    re: Neighbor Threatening to Cut My Trees

    I took pictures on my cell (& sent them to my email) immediately!

    I got my Association to act on this- originally they wouldn't because it wasn't 'common property'. But once I emailed them the law....

    The Supreme Court recognized that encroaching branches may constitute an actionable nuisance and that a common law right exists to cut off overhanging branches to the property line, but no further.   He cut the tree to the trunk- which is my property line.

     In Wegener v. Sugerman, 104 N.J.L. 26, 138 A. 699 (Sup. Ct. 1927) the New Jersey Supreme Court held that a landowner may lawfully cut overhanging branches of trees or hedges, but may not destroy the tree or hedge on the neighbor’s land.  This form of self-help was found to be acceptable to the Court.

    ....they found the guidelines in our prospectus about violating neighbors and trespassing. They're bringing it forth to the Board and based on their recommendation, possibly the Associations's attorney. I'm glad my common fee is going to something worthwhile! lol!

    I also emailed the Chief of Police- and included the dated pictures. Just to get his thoughts.

     

  • 10-06-2009 2:07 PM In reply to

    • ibrody
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 10-05-2009
    • NJ
    • Posts 3

    Re: Neighbor Threatening to Cut My Trees

    Unfortunately I wasn't home when they cut my tree-  I wouldn't have let it happen if I was there!

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