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Question DetailsAsked on 3/13/2017

Hi, How do I ask a neighbor to remove 5 HUGE fir trees that fell onto my property in December 2016?

When these trees fell i asked the neighbor if he would like me to slide them back over to his property with my tractor. He got an attitude and walked away. I'm selling my house and these tree's are an eye sore. Please help... Oh FYI I asked, ok then can i cut the the wood for you and keep it since its on my property? He said sure then just throw it back onto my property when your done. Um NO!!!

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Here is a somewhat similar question with a number of responses FYI -

You have already asked him once - I would ask him again in person (with a dealine of say 1-2 weeks), and if he refuses or says he will do it but does not do so in short order, send him a certified mail return receipt signature required letter demanding he remove the trespass which his trees represent. Course, you risk damage to your lawn if he cuts them at the property line and just drags the tops onto his property.

Other solution which you already addressed - check the law in your state, but in most if not all states (in some may require written advance notification of 5-10 days to give him time to remove it himself) fallen trees and tree debris in your yard can be removed and disposed of as you wish (burn, stack for firewood, haul off, chip, etc) for everything on your side of the property line. Course, that can get sticky at times - unless you get it surveyed or already have clear line markings nearby, you want to be careful - cut it on his side of the line and you might get into a Hatfield and McCoy's situation.

You also have the insurance route - filing a claim (preferably with his insurance company but might have to sue and use discovery to find out who that is), or with your insurance company and they will go after his insurer for reimbursement - though will raise your insurance rates not only on this house but likely on your next one too. Course, since it has been sitting there a couple of months might have a bit of difficulty with that issue - but at least it has not been years.

If using an attorney for your side of the real estate deal (when it happens), you could have him send a demand letter, which commonly gets quicker action than one from you. He could also advise you of how to advance a claim against the neighbor (after proper legal notification) for the cost of the removal, and for filing a lien on his property if he refuses to pay for it.

You could go the police route (here comes the Hatfield and McCoy's potential again), calling them to talk to him about his trespass as a criminal matter - though they might or might not take action on that, saying it is a civil trespass issue. Depends on locale - in some areas this could be considered criminal trespass, in others not especially since it wasnot intentional - he did not push or cut the trees so they fell on your land, mother nature did it. They will probably talk to him - but likely not take it any further than that.

Oh - on the sale thing - not only are they an eyesore, but because they (presumably) clearly lie over the property line, most buyer's home inspectors are likely to flag this, and most buyers are likely to demand their removal before closing (as a sale contingency) - and some buyer's realtors may warn buyers not to make an offer on the presumption that they are still there because you have an issue with the neighbor over them, so that could be a red flag on the house and a possible sign of a nasty neighbor. It takes SO little to red-flag a house these days (and rightly so in cases where it might involve a dispute with a neighbor or a nasty neighbor), so better to get it out of the way ASAP so it does not potentially impact your saleability.

One thing about cutting it at the property line - unless a surveyor (typically $100-150 for this in areas with property-corner marked lots) has marked the line on both sides of the tree (typically 5 feet away on each side and a paintline across the tree also), many tree service companies will not cut a tree like that, fearing a trespassing charge from the neighbor if they go over the line in the cutting.

You say HUGE fir trees, so assuming you mean full-growth 150 footers or so, I would expect you are looking at $2000-5000 total cost to remove the trees entirely (not including the root balls, which are presumably on his side of the line) - prorate that number based on the rough percentage of the growth that is on your side of the line to get a very rough ballpark of what your cost might be. Of course, get a couple of bids from Tree Services (your Search the List category) for a "real" number applicable to your specific situation.

Since talking about selling, be sure the tree clearing contract addresses protection of the lawn/drive/walks, etc, and what level of cleanup you want done by them for appearance sake - especially if you might be non-resident by the time this is done so will not be around to rake up any remaining debris. And if not taking the wood off-site, whether you want it cut to firewood or longer length, if split or not for larger pieces over a specified diameter, and left lying for you to pick up or stacked in a specified and marked location - because you are presumably talking a LOT of wood here so stacking on-site might well be cheaper than having them haul it off. Be sure stack(s) stay at least 3 and preferably 10 feet away from the house to limit risk of insects taking up residence there, then moving to the house when it next gets cold. Especially in termite country.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


BTW - for more previous questions regarding dealing with neighbors on tree issues (danger trees, trees dropping debris, fallen trees) you can look in the Lawn & Garden - Tree Services link under Browse Projects, at lower left, i you wish. Might give you more info and ideas on how to appraoch the neighbor, and has more discussion on the issue of what yuou can do with trees overhanging or lying in your yard. Of course, since different states, have different rules, google for the statute or regulation in your area regarding trees infringing on property lines, just so YOU don't end up being the focus of attention by the police because of your neighbor calling them on you.

And of course, as previously stated, the location of the property line is very important - genearally, and especially with trees that are already down and not a current hazard, you (or your contractor) cannot go on his property to work on the trees. Also - being conservative and cutting only on your property, leaving some feet of the trees overlapping the property line, is likely to raise property line issues in the sale - might be noticed by the home inspector (especially if there is a fence or hedge or such along the property line), but also in many areas the title company requires a resurvey of the property line to establish any infringements - like these trees - before they will issue a title policy.

And that can be especially nasty - because usually this is only done in the last week or two before closing (so the survey info is as up to date as feasible), so by the time it shows up as an infringement your time to get it resolved is severly limited - and too short entirely if you have to go through some legal maneuvering with the neighbor to get the problem resolved, so I would emphatically recommend taking care of it on a priority basis. Last thing you want to do is miss the closing date and have the buyer back out or demand a cost adjustment for your failure to meet the deadline.

And along that line - one thing that is starting to pop up in real estate deals now (and rightly should have always been there) is a good-faith and security deposit by the Seller as well as the Buyer (normally in same amount) - so failurte to close because of this sort of an infringement could end up costing you not only the reduced saleability from having to relist, and the lost time to relist and get to closing with anopthear buyer, but also possibly a several to many thousand $ earnest money/cancellation deposit.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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