Have a tree on my property in New Brunswick, NJ. Branchs are over my neighbous property. She is very nasty. I am concerned if they fall on here house as they seem close to doing so. Who is responsible to trim those branches? What city entity can I ask or write to to show I was pro-active in this problem? If I trim them she'll sue for trespassing, if I don't & they fall on her house she sue for damages, I want to do the roght thing & protect my self & property.
Neighbor situations always seem to be the most contentious and confusing. I have to state here that I am not a lawyer and cannot offer legal advice, and the comments made here should not be taken as legal advice.
First, you are technically responsible for the safety of your trees. Although your neighbor has a right to prune overhanging branches, she is not obligated to do so. Also, she cannot sue you to force you to take action if nothing has occurred yet. However, if she were to ask you to do something about it and you did nothing, you had constructive notice of the problem and would have a tough time defending the case.
So there are three options in a case such as yours. 1. You prune the trees to avoid the possibility of damage. 2. Your neighbor prunes the trees to protect her property. 3. No one does anything until damage occurs.
If you decide to prune the trees, get your neighbor’s permission before entering her property, or allowing a contractor to enter her property. I suggest you get it in writing, if there is any question about it. If the neighbor refuses, get that in writing, or at least record that you made an attempt. Send a certified letter with return receipt. That way if damage does happen to her property, you can show that you made a good faith effort to avoid the problem.
Finally, be as cordial as possible. Remember you still have to live next to each other.
Talk to a lawyer if you have questions about legal issues. Talk to your insurance company if the neighbor refuses to cooperate. And talk to a local ISA Certified Arborist for advice on what work needs to be done.
International Society of Arboriculture
Russ Carlson, RCA, BCMA
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