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Question DetailsAsked on 11/3/2014

Neighbor had a tree service company cut down a tree on my property without our permission. Anything we can do?

Realtor who has two houses listed on the same street had a tree service company come out and remove a 40 year old tree on our property. The realtor said the tree service company may have gone to the wrong address since they have two listed and cut down the wrong tree. Or the realtor told the tree service company the wrong address. In any case what can we do about having one or both held reliable. The cost of replacing the tree, labor and all my shade plants now need to be sun plants, removing the old stump and now my biggest thing is property value and privacy.

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Voted Best Answer

You have no way of knowing who was at fault from your end - and not your job to figure out. Unlikely to get the tree replaced with same-sized one without a heck of a court fight, but they should replace it with one or more trees of same variety of mature height (say 30' or more) and the old stump ground down to below ground level. Generally, trees up to about 8 inch trunk diameter and about 40' tall can be transplanted, which is probably inthe range of size yours was, so getting a same-sie replacement should be possible, even though it will cost them a couple thousand to as much as $10,000 ro more to do it depending on tree size and type and difficulty of digging the root ball out.

There are professional certified arboreal appraisers - arborists trained in appraisingthe value of trees in situations like yours.

I would personally start with the Realtor about getting it handled - if resistance there, then I would talk to the tree service company owner - but you have to know in advance what you want them to do to "make it right", and make clear you are prepared to take this to their insurance company or to court - and technically, at least for the tree company, you have a civil trespass case possible, though would likely not go to prosecution for criminal trespass because pretty obviously a case of mistaken location.

Technically, your primary beef would be with the tree service company because they were the ones who trespassed on your property and took the tree, though if the Realtor gave the wrong address then he/she comes into it too from a culpability standpoint. It was really dumb of him/her not to have flagged the tree to be cut, especially if not there when the tree company started work to make sure the right tree was cut.

I would NOT contact your insurance company, because that can result in a chargeable claim on your policy that will raise your rates needlessly.

This is likely to involve the insurance companies of both the Realtor and the tree service company, with each saying the other should pay so it could stall out real quick, so what I would do if you don't want to deal with the parties yourself or they resists making it right is contact an attorney for advice and to set up a meeting with the Realtor and the tree service owner to discuss how THEY are going to make it right. If they refuse, then he should write a letter to both demanding either a specific compensation (if that is what you want) or replacement with certain size same species (or other species you may agree to) tree with a certain fulll replacement warranty on survival (I would say 2 or 3 years would be reasonable), and stump grinding and debris removal.

I would also get dated photos in order showing the "before" case with the tree intact, maybe grab shots off google earth or other similar sources showing the tree (both aerial view and the street view if it shows in that), and photos of the case now including the missing tree and the lost privacy and the remnant stump. Your relatives or neighbors might have family photos showing the tree before it was cut down too.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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