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What's the neighborly thing to do?
My neighbor has an enormous tree that is leaning right at my house. The tree has a "V" in it, and a large limb extends horizontally from that "v", reaching over to almost touch my house. I love the shade and the beauty of the tree (particularly the part that hangs over my yard), but I am getting really concerned about the lean. It would flatten our house if it fell, and I have two kids. Today, I looked at it from her yard for the first time, and it's even worse than I realized. I think it's almost 45 degrees. There have been a lot of trees dying in our neighborhood lately, which adds to my concern. She and I have both agreed to have an arborist look at it and then proceed. She mentioned spliting the cost of the arborist, and I'm fine with that. She is far less concerned about this than I am, but I don't feel she's blowing me off completely or anything. We have been good neighbors since 1996. She is a single older woman (still working though), and probably has more limited income than us (not that we're rich or anything).

Anyway, here's my question. If it turns out the tree needs to be cut down, should I offer to pay some portion of the cost? Would that be the neighborly thing to do, or is that uncalled for? If I should, what % would be fair? Also, if just the part that overhangs my yard is the cause of the lean, should I feel obligated to pay more or even most of it, even though it would only be done if needed for safety? Arborists out there- do you know what people usually do in these situations? Thanks for your opinions.
Posts: 1 | Registered: Thursday June 01, 2006Report This Post
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Ok i am no EXPERT, but first i would call the person in your city or townsip or county to find out the legal course of action would be. I know in our area if the tree is not causing a problem i have the right to trim the branches on my property at my expense if it is not going to harm the tree. If the tree or branch is harming your property then it is the responsibility of the tree owner to have the offending branch or tree cut down.
Now if the tree needs to be cut down totally after the arborist comes it is not uncalled for to offer a percentage. or even pay the whole thing and have her make payments to you, just make sure she signs something with you and or the tree company showing that you have paid your part and so on and it is up to her to pay the rest (just so the tree company doesnot go after you for debt). If the arborist declares that the tree has to be cut down for safety it is Her responsibility because the tree is on her property.
Just realize tho that you are good neighbors.. and even the best of people tend to shrug off financial responsibility especially with big price tags. Just do not get yourself in the position where you are left holding the bag.
Posts: 5 | Registered: Monday April 24, 2006Report This Post
RCA #354
BCMA #PD0008b
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Krista offered good advice. The best thing you can do is keep it neighborly and friendly, and don’t let this become an issue between you. Work together on it.

There is usually no obligation for you to pay anything. If there is not an immediate hazard situation, the neighbor does not have to act. You can resort to self-help, cutting only as far as the property line, but again, I urge that you first discuss what you want to do with the neighbor. If there is a dangerous situation, the neighbor must abate the hazard. The only way for you to compell them to act if they don’t want to is to get a court order. Not fun at all.

As far as offering to help pay part of the cost, that is very kind. Big trees can get expensive to either prune or remove. There are no rules on assisting with the cost, so whatever you can agree to is OK. Krista suggested getting it in writing-an absolute necessity, even if you are good friends. When you select an arborist to do the work, perhaps have them write two separate work orders, so you are each billed separately. That way they can’t seek full payment from you if the neighbor doesn’t pay. At the least, get the arborist to show on the work order who will pay what part, then have both parties sign it and keep copies.

If you can’t work this out on friendly terms..... Well, that’s a whole other story. Let’s cover that one if we get to it.

Russ Carlson, RCA, BCMA
Posts: 287 | Location: Bear, DE USA | Registered: Wednesday June 18, 2003Report This Post
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Krista Kusnier

Posted Friday June 02, 2006 07:38 AM

Hi. I don't know where you are from but here in NJ if a neighbors tree tresspasses on your property and is causing damage you have the right to force the neighbor to have the tree cut or removed at their expense. Our tree laws haven't changed since some where around he 1920's.
Posts: 4 | Location: Woodstown | Registered: Friday June 20, 2003Report This Post
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