What do I do if the branches of my neighbor’s tree are overhanging my house and may cause roof damage? Remember: negotiate, rather than litigate! A number of recent cases about tree cutting (of a neighbor’s tree) have made it clear that it pays to act neighborly and reach a reasonable compromise.

Below are a few guidelines

from a leading real estate publication that may be helpful to refer to:

A tree whose trunk stands entirely on one’s own property belongs exclusively to the landowner although its roots extend into the land of the adjoining owner. A tree whose trunk stands partly on the land of two or more adjoining owners belongs to them in common.

The owner of a tree based on the location of its trunk is the owner of the branches and roots of the tree. The owner of the neighboring property has the right to cut off the overhanging branches or the undercutting roots at the property line, but must act reasonable in doing so.

Branches and roots of trees that encroach on another’s land and cause or threaten damage may constitute a nuisance.

Be Careful! An owner who fails to maintain a tree properly may be liable for the damages caused to the adjoining owner when a branch falls onto a house on an adjacent parcel.

Of course, it is always better to get along than get a lawyer…and much less expensive as well!