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Can you sue your neighbor for chopping down your boundary tree?

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2021 | Civil Litigation |

The mature jacaranda tree that sat just on your side of the property boundary may have been why you bought your house. The love that people have for trees can affect where they live or how much they pay for a property. Not only do trees add visual appeal to your property, but they also help reduce cooling costs by offering shade, prevent erosion of soil and handle rainwater during storms.

One day, you came home from work to discover that your neighbor had chopped that beautiful, flowering tree down. They claim that because its roots encroach on their property or the flowers that fell off of it were a nuisance, they had the right to cut it down. Can you take legal action against them?

The person who owns the tree is the one who decides what to do with it

Your neighbor may think they have the right to cut your tree down, but California state law and civil court precedent say the opposite. State code makes it clear that individuals cannot cut down or even trim plants and trees on someone else’s property without written permission.

There are some minor exceptions to this rule when it comes to trees and plants on one property that encroach on another. People can trim back branches or roots that come on to their property. However, they must do so in a way that will not damage or kill plants and trees on someone else’s property without written permission.

The loss of a mature tree on your property could drastically affect how you feel about your home and how much it commands on the real estate market. You potentially have the right to take legal action against your neighbor for their removal of a tree without your permission. An experienced attorney can provide guidance specific to your situation.