Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More on the Baffling Boundary Trees


A commenter writes that a tree overhanging her dock was causing a concern it might fall and damage the dock. She had trimmed overhanging branches before, and the neighbor had never complainted. So she thought since the tree leaned her way, if was ok to cut it down.

Whoops! The neighbor has now taken her to Small Claims court, where the damage limit is up to $7500.

What should she do? She thinks the trunk might actually have been on the property line; if so, she may be liable for only half the value of the tree, since she would be responsible for half its upkeep. If it was truly in danger of falling and causing damage, its value would be lower and its hazard potenial higher. Too bad she didn't have it assessed by a consulting arborist before taking matters into her own hands.

Nevertheless, it is not too late for her to get expert advise. She can still have a consulting arborist assess the situation. Does she have photos of the tree before she cut it down? Is there any wood left that can be evaluated for disease or other stressers that may have devalued the tree?

Another step may be to have a survey done to determine if it was truly on the property line. All of these things can be costly however, so she may want to negotiate with the neighbor over the value of the tree and cost to replace with one that won't overhang her dock.

The moral of this story might be summed up as "Look before you Lop." In the long run, you can save time, money and your relationship with your neighbor if you get all the facts and are willing to work things out first.