The law allows tree trimming up to the property line, nothing further. However, neighbors may only cut the limb back to the property line and may not enter their neighbor's property for further cutting without permission. In Fancher v. Fagella, the Virginia Supreme Court held that where a neighbor’s tree causes harm or poses an imminent danger of harm to an adjoining property, the tree owner “may be held responsible” for this harm. Under Maryland law, you are responsible for the proper care and maintenance of your trees and, if they become a nuisance, you may be liable for damages. or branches of the trees extend over the line (Bloch [Tree Law Cases in the USA]). We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail. Act of God. Tree laws and tree lawsuit can be significant in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC. With Offices in Maryland (Rockville or Bethesda), and Washington, DC, the attorneys at Longman & Van Grack assist clients throughout Washington, DC and Maryland including Montgomery County, Howard County, Prince George’s County, Chevy Chase, Darnestown, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Potomac, Silver Spring, and Wheaton. Under that doctrine, the neighbor could obtain title to your property if they possess the property for a 20 year period, and such possession is actual, open, notorious, exclusive and adverse to your claim of ownership. Can I cut those branches to limit the amount of leaves? If you have a dead tree on your property, cutting it down could be a smart move. I find a distance of only 2 m (6 ½ feet) between a really large tree and the boundary line a bit thin, but at least the law is clear. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Maryland in a dispute over who owned three trees.2One year later, in March 2013, Emmy Award-winning film director John Upton was shot during a dispute when his neighbor attempted to cut down trees that provided shade Homeowners can refuse this, but the authorities are within their power to remove the trees without consent. While the homeowner may be permitted to cut his neighbor’s encroaching branches, the homeowner is generally limited to cutting back growth the property line and the homeowner may not enter the adjoining homeowner’s property to remove the growth without the neighbor’s consent. Bethesda, MD 20817 What can I do? And a shrub or hedge not exceeding 2 m (6 ½ feet) in height must be planted at least 50 cm (20 inches) from the property line. An exception to this, attorney Steve Goldman with … Simply put, it’s the law. In other examples, our law firm has represented individuals against governments related to tree hazards/damage and against neighbors for tree hazards/damage. Does a homeowner have a similar right? If Maryland does not have such a law, general Maryland criminal statutes, such as those related to theft or property damage, may still apply. The rights of a property owner to remove or trim their neighbor’s tree roots. Options for tree maintenance near service wires or between poles on or near your property are explained below. Where a healthy tree straddles the property line, the property owners "each hold title to a portion of [the tree], and thus neither can take any action against their portion of [the tree] that would injure [the tree] as a whole." Now, a lot of people ask us why they should have to pay to trim a neighbor’s shrubs and trees hanging over their property. Relying on the easements granted to them many years ago, the utilities are often permitted to remove trees that they deem to be a future threat to their power lines. If you do harm the tree, you could be found liable for up to three times the value of the tree. The potential legal liabilities of property owners when their trees threaten or actually cause damage to their neighbor’s property. If the neighbor's tree is near the property line, but not actually crossing it, no trimming can take place by the other neighbor without first obtaining permission to do so. That's right, even if the tree is rooted in your neighbor's yard, if it crashes onto your property, it's your problem. One of the most common issues homeowners face is when a tree's roots or branches extend over the property line onto a neighbor's adjoining property. Thus landowners in Maryland are provided with certain legal rights to themselves control their neighbor’s living trees, plants, roots, or vines that have encroached on their land within Maryland. Maryland Right to Farm Laws The law is unclear on whether landowners can remove a tree themselves when it sits on a property line. © Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, 2021.”, Submit a legal information question to the Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, Call or chat with a lawyer about your civil legal matter, at no cost Except the trees were the unlucky cabin campers. The Law. In Texas, a person is not under an affirmative duty to prune or trim a healthy tree when its branches extend over his neighbor’s property, even if the tree branches extend over the neighbor’s roof or driveway where cars are parked. Self-Sown Trees Now if the tree in question isn't dangerous, but just needs a major trimming to avoid hanging into your yard or scattering leaves everywhere, that's a … You cannot cut down the tree without getting the permission of your neighbor. (To learn more about damages and criminal penalties in tree injury cases, see Nolo’s article When a Neighbor Damages or Destroys Your Tree.) But he cannot cut the tree down or cause it to be killed. If you damage the structure of a neighbor's tree, you may be liable for damages. Article from 2014. Under the law, trees are considered a part of the property and landowners have a right to that tree, even if it is only halfway on the property. There are some things to consider if you have a problem with a tree on a shared property line: For legal advice, you should consult an attorney. While Washington, DC formerly followed the same “Massachusetts Rule” that Maryland follows, Washington, DC decided in 1960 to follow a slightly different rule. 1988); Dudley v. Meadowbrook, Inc. 166 A.2d 743 (Md. A tree cutter would be hired and generally would cut and remove all of the tree materials on your property up to the property line. One often-overlooked legal issue related to storms and property damage in Maryland, Virginia, and DC is potential legal liability related to tree damage, at risk trees, or fallen trees. Property owners in every state have the right to cut off branches and roots that stray into their property. Maintenance of trees on private property can often lead to disputes between neighbours when a tree has been planted close to the property line. It extends way over the property line, over your yard or even your house. As a storm approaches or yearly growth increases, are you prepared for what could happen with your trees? If the entire trunk rests on one side of the property line, that neighbor has ownership regardless if branches, roots, foliage or any other portion of the tree hangs over the property line. When a tree on your property hangs over the boundary line into another yard, you have a duty to address all weak or damaged branches. In fact, in a 1988 decision, the Maryland Court of Appeals specifically held that a landowner could not bring a lawsuit against a neighbor whose trees and other vegetation encroached and damaged his property. You are responsible for the cost of cutting any branches you choose to trim. Accordingly, while in Maryland, an owner of rural or suburban forest land may likely not be liable for damage done by dead tree limbs falling onto the property or persons of others unless the tree constitutes a danger to lawful users of abutting public roads and the owner is aware or should be aware of the tree’s deteriorated condition, a urban homeowner may very well be liable for the same injury since the owner will likely have far fewer trees to inspect and, therefore, is seen to have a duty to know about the existence of dead or decaying trees on the owner’s urban property. If you suffer any damage from the overhanging branches, the neighbor is not liable because your remedy is to trim the encroaching branches. As a general rule of law, you can trim back any part of any tree that is hanging over/encroaching into your property. Some encroaching trees may be dangerous or may cause damage to property. In most cases this is the only help that is provided by the law, even when damage from a tree is substantial. Sunday May 13, 2007 at 12:01 AM May 13, 2007 at 12:52 PM. If my neighbor owns a fruit tree, and the branches hang over my property… In England and Wales the authorities have powers to act against potential damage-causing trees on private property. The first thing to do is check the laws about tree overhanging the property line. In 2007, the Supreme Court of Virginia made a ruling that differs from the general rules in Maryland and Washington, DC related to tree liability and tree damage in Virginia. Branches of the neighbor’s tree hang in my yard. We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our website. Trees that start out on your property but grow over the boundary between your property and your neighbor’s property become the joint property of you and your neighbor under Washington state law. Rules, Title 15, Chapter 500, This site offers legal information, not legal advice. If limbs or branches belonging to a neighbor's tree extend over your property line, you are legally allowed to trim the areas hanging over your property. Each landowner has an interest in both boundary and border line trees. Specifically, the Attorney General made clear that under Maryland law, the right or duty of a homeowner to cut a neighbor’s encroaching tree branches back to the property line depends on the condition of the tree and the nature of the abutting property. Entering their property directing someone to do or not to do is check the laws about tree the... 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