A tree branching into neighbor’s yard.Whoseresponsibility?

UPDATED: May 24, 2009

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A tree branching into neighbor’s yard.Whoseresponsibility?

An old and tall tree growing on my propertyhas branches draping into my neighbor’syard. He is complaining, and wants meto trim the branches (a costly expense).Who is responsible for the cost?

Asked on May 24, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

You are under no responsibility to trim the branches on these facts.

If your tree trunk is entirely on your property, there’s not much your neighbor can do if he thinks that the branches may harm his property.  But if the branches have actually done some harm, he can sue for damages.  A property owner is negligent, and liable, if they don’t use “reasonable care” to avoid damages caused by their trees.  What are "damages"?  Probably not a blocked view but something like scraped shingles, broken windows, or destroyed landscaping are.

If however at some point in the future one of these branches does cause property damage, or personal injury, it might well be worth your while to pay to have the branches trimmed now.  You did say that this is an old tree; chances are one of these branches could break off. 

Maybe you both could reach a compromise and share the expense of trimming?

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