Trees are an amazing source of oxygen and they make any yard beautiful, but the trees that may cause concern just might be your neighbor’s.
According to California Civil Code section 883, a tree is considered to be your neighbor’s property if the trunk stands wholly on their property. That owner owns the tree regardless of whether its roots, foliage, and branches are growing on your property. The landowner that doesn’t own the tree can trim the shrubbery as long as the process does not harm or kill the tree. If the tree stands partly on the land of the two adjacent yards, then both landowners own the tree.
Adjoining tree owners have the right to trim shrubbery, however they do not have the same freedom to remove tree roots because the root is the primary source of nutrients for the tree. Roots can only be cut if the owner can prove they are doing damage to their property, and it must be done professionally. An incorrect cut can lead to the tree’s death.
If you accidentally cut down your neighbor’s tree thinking that the tree was on your property, it could cost you twice the tree’s value to replace. If you knew the tree was on their property and you willfully cut it down the cost increases significantly.
In some instances the neighbor may press charges and you may be held accountable for your neighbor’s legal fees. Additionally, you may also be held liable for other forms of the law: things like negligence, trespassing, conversion, intentional infliction of emotional stress, and fraud.
Your homeowners insurance policy should be reviewed by your insurance agent. Contact Hoffman Brown Company in Sherman Oaks, California, they will assist with a policy review and provide recommendations.