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Question DetailsAsked on 6/25/2016

my 40 year old avocado tree drops fruits on my neighbor's 5 year old overhang. Who is responsible for damages?

Fruit falls on overhang damaging the roof of the overhang. Who is responsible for damages?

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2 Answers


This depends on the state's legal code you live in. Some states if the tree branches are over the property line those branches and fruit belong to the neighbor. The neighbor may also prune without your permission any branch that crosses the property line. So if you are living in one of these states your question would be my neighbors fruit dropped from his branches of the avocado tree, who is responsible for the damages? Note due to easement restrictions it is very unlikely any fruit from your side of the tree damaged his overhang.

Now other states have other laws. So you would either need to consult the legal code and judical rulings in your area, or ask a lawyer.

Also note if your neighbour decides to be nasty about this. Check the distance of the overhang to your property, check the legal code. If it does not met the code file a complaint requesting the overhang be redone according to code. Once it is fixed to code check to see if there are any damages left. Your neighbor is responsible for meeting all legal codes.

Answered 4 years ago by jephk


I have never heard of an easement restriction for tree overhang - overhang over easements (like utility or road easements) can be trimmed by the easement owner for access or utility protection, but I doubt there are any limitations on how far a tree can overhang the neighbor's yard. (Exception - original construction restrictions on vegetation on HOA/Condo situations, which sometimes specify in great detail type/ size/ overgrowth/ etc for vegetation, and of course some limitations in certain areas on NOT cutting down certain locally sensitive or protected species.

Generally, the neighbor can trim back branches over his side of the line as long as it is done in a reasonable manner and not so as to kill or seriously damage the tree - though in some states he can trim right to the line, potentially making it a one-sided tree.

In some states native trees are handled differently than "planted" vegetation, so you would have to google for articles on overhanging trees in your state. However, even if treated different in your state, the fact the tree was there when he moved in would weigh in your favor anyway.

However, in general, with the exception of obviously hazardous conditions like significant sized (large branch rather than twig) dead trees or limbs - which the owner is responsible to abate the dangerous condition so as to not present a public hazard or nuisance, the stuff that falls off your tree (leaves, twigs and small branches, fruit, pollen, flower debris, sap) is consider a natural process of the tree and part of nature and you are not responsible for damage to property it falls or blows onto.

So - his option is probably to trim back the branch(es) overhanging his roof. You could cooperate with him on this for good nieghbor purposes - though if the tree has any risk of damaging the overhang when cut, I would be REAL careful about getting involved in it, and since legally you most likely have no responsibility getting involved in it might invoke some responsibility you would not otherwise be exposed to.

I would (assuming this will not grossly unbalance the tree) tell him he is free to cut the limb back on his side of the line to stop the fruit from falling on his roof. He does NOT have the right to come on your property to cut it at the trunk - his cutting right ends at the property line unless the trunk of the tree sits on the line at ground surface, in which it is a shared ownership and you both have to share in the cost of reasonable protective measures from hazards - though I would still say in almost of not all jurisdictions natural materials falling on his side are still his responsibility and he can solve it by trimming the branch(es) back.

His other alternative is potentially to snip the buds or knock down the fruit in early development stage (on his side of the fence) to prevent the fruit from growing large enough to cause damage - though the legality of that probably varies by state - some allow modifying/trimming a plant to prevent damage, others only cutting offending branches. There is one famous back-east murder case resulting from a neighbor doing intentionally ugly hedge trimming on their side of the line related to that question.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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