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Question DetailsAsked on 9/11/2012

Must I pay for removing a tree from my neighbor's yard?

Another question about neighbors and trees. A tree on the city easement in front of my neighbor's house was damaged in a big storm and a HUGE limb fell. It destroyed the neighbor's fence and landed on my roof, causing big damage. We had a proposal from a tree company to remove it and made sure they included a line about "remove neighbor's portion" because we did not want to be responsible for the tree on his property. We signed because we needed the tree off our roof and the tree company removed everything - including the neighbor's portion. Our insurance paid for the expensive job - except for the remaining $650 for the neighbor's portion, saying the neighbor is responsible for that portion. So, the tree company called wondering where the $650 is. I said it's the neighbor's responsibility per my insurance. The tree company responded that we signed the proposal. I should say this neighbor is actually the landlord and does not reside there - the people in the house are renters.

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6 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Unless the contract stated they were to remove the neighbor's portion at the neighbor's expense it's your bill. You simply stated they were to remove the portion on the neighbor's side also, not who would pay for it by what I'm reading, even if that was your intention.

Another route to take: Technically you should be able to file a claim with your neighbor's insurance for the damage done by the tree and possibly for the removal of the tree including the portion not affecting you. They may deny the second part but if they pay for damages in addition to the coverage by your insurance you've been reimbursed. Don't take more than the $650 and keep all records so you aren't accused of insurance fraud. Unless the bill was broken into 2 parts stating which amount was for the removal on your side and which side was theirs their insurance probably won't argue much about only paying part of the bill. Talk to your agent about how to best approach this.

Todd Shell
Todd's Home Services

Answered 8 years ago by Todd's Home Services


Pay the $650 and put lien on neighbors property. When you signed the contract specifying removal of neighbors portion the dispute became between you and your neighbor (ie the owner of the property). Pay the tree service and put the lien at the county assessor's office. It costs $25 here to do and keep renewing it every ? two years for chuckles, You may get your $675 back, who knows.


Answered 8 years ago by jccasper


I deal with this type of situation all the time. If a healthy (even if it belongs to your neighbor, or the city) tree gets damaged or knocked down in a storm, any part that lands on your property is your responsibility. If your healthy tree gets knocked down in a storm any part that is on your neighbors property is now their problem. Your insurance company can usually confirm this for you with just a call. Most insurance companies won't pay unless the tree falls on a structure. If it lands on the lawn and causes no property damage they won't pay in most cases. If you decided to take it upon yourself to have the neighbors taken care of at the same time it is now your bill. When you decided to have it done you didn't give your neighbor the opportunity to make his own decision on how to handle it. He may have a tree company that he has used in the past that may have done it cheaper for him. If the tree in question was dead and fell on your house then the owner of the tree is fully responsible financially.

Answered 7 years ago by Treesareus


I can't help but take exception to a couple of the other comments:

In general (though local laws might vary), if a neighbor's tree falls on your property or damages your property, it is HIS responsibility - so the insurance claim should have been against HIS insurance, not yours. By using your insurance, you will now probably pay higher premiums for the next 3-5 years because it came out of your insurance, even though undoubtedly your insurance company is going to recover what they paid from HIS insurance comapny behind the scenes.

The comment about if it falls on your property it is your problem relates only to normal shedding of leaves, twigs, small brances, etc - which cause no direct damage, are easily cleaned up, and considered a contribution of mother nature, not an intrusion from his yard. Large branches that cause damage or require a chain saw to cut up for instance, would be considered his responsibility ASSUMING they came from trees totally on his side of the yard. If they came from a tree on the property line (trunk straddles line) then it is a shared tree, and then Treesaurus (nice name, buy the way) is right - your responsibility regardless of size.

As to Jim's comment on filing a lien - that would NOT be correct in this case. Would be doable IF he had agreed to pay his share of the bill and later refused, but NOT legal if he never agreed to the service provided with narrow exceptions for services rendered to save life or property. So, reasonable expense to shut off a leaking gas or water line (when no one was home at his place) endangering both your properties but located on his property would be a legitimate charge without his approval, as would boarding up windows on his behalf (in his absence and unable to contact him) after a major fire or hail storm or hurricane say would be legitimate - but such cases require it be necessary, the minimum required to save or preserve his property, be an emergency situation demanding immediate attention, that you have a reasonable cause or reason for doing it (which generally includes good samaritan neighbor, but some drive-by storm-chasing contractor cannnot do it, for instance), and only until you can contact the owner or his representative (or household family member) to turn the problem over to him. Also - lien might or might not be fileable depending on state - in many states only contractors/ vendors working on the property or providing materials permanently installed on the property can file liens, and you would not qualify as a contractor.

Normally, in this type of case, for an emergency removal of the limb to avoid further damage to the roof or to enable its repair, you would cut and remove the limb not further than to the property line, leaving his part to his care.

BTW - $650 for HIS share - what was total bill ? Usually you can remove an entire tree, include off-site removal (which would not be justified in the case of his part anyway as not an emeergency action, even if it had been on his roof) for that amount. Normally, cutting up the portion leaning on the roof/house would be a few hundred dollars for the emergency portion of the job.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


"If a neighbor's tree falls on your property or damages your property, it is HIS responsibility - so the insurance claim should have been against HIS insurance, not yours."

Original comment (2nd sentence): "A tree on the city easement in front of my neighbor's house was damaged in a big storm and a HUGE limb fell. It destroyed the neighbor’s fence and landed on my roof, causing big damage.

If the tree was in fact on the city easement, the city maintained the tree, not the homeowner - so the city is responsible BUT as we all know, cities & towns work on their schedule, not ours. Their typical motto: "Your urgency is not our emergency" Also, cities & towns have their own trucks & tree cutting more than likely a judge would tell you “You were too hasty, you should’ve waited . . . & you will not be reimbursed”.

Answered 5 years ago by MargiesList


Long story short and put in a very simple form, you can't sign a contract that binds a third party who isn't a part of the contract to anything.

Following your line of reasoning, I could sign a lease a Trump Towers that says you are responsible for paying my rent, and tell them to call you when they come looking for the money every month.

The contract is between you and the company. If the neighbor didn't sign the contract, they don't owe the company, you do.

Only the parties ENTER INTO and SIGN a written contract are BOUND to the contract. Your neighbor was not a contracting party.

Source: Paralegal for the past 33 years

Answered 5 years ago by NJParalegal


One thing about the MargiesList comment on a tree in an easement being the city's problem. Actually, in most cases, unless THEY planted and maintained the trees (like for instance the large palms lining some - but not all - City of LA and Beverly Hills and Santa Monica streets you see in the movies and are now being taken down due to the drought conditions), the easement gives them right of use of the strip along the front of your property for street and utility and maybe sidewalk use - but also allows you non-conflicting use like landscaping and playing in the yard (if easement reaches into the yard proper, as it commonly does to allow for maintenance work and widening of the street).

Maintenance and care of the vegetation, landscaping, sometimes even sidewalks remains the responsibility of the homeowner. The city can choose to maintain them (like trimming for vehicle clearance) and has to reasonably pick up any mess they make in the process, but the property owner is still the owner and responsible for the tree - including if it falls into the street for instance. In fact, some towns/cities/counties charge homeowners if the government agency has to trim trees or brush or bushes or such to provide legal road clearance for vehicles, or if the tree falls into the street and they have to remove it.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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