Friday, October 10, 2008

More email Questions

A listener to the Len Tillem show writes about her neighbor's encroaching Redwood tree:

My neighbor has a 300 ft. Redwood tree planted in the corner of her yard next to the fence which adjoints my fence and the other two neighbors.The trunk of the tree is approximatly 6 feet & has pushed into my yard forcing me to adjust my fence to make room for the bottom of the trunk. I only have a partial fence in that corner area now.

The tree has sprouted a new tree from the trunk which is going to cause further problems as it grows. I've requeste that she have a tree firm come out & use a chain saw and trim all the sprouts around the tree so our fence will not have further problems. She has ignored all my written requests.

Should I send a registered letter to her on the problem and go to court if she does nothing? What are my alternatives! Also will the tree cause problems when we want to sell our house? Thanking you in advance for your reply on this matter.


Rammed by a Redwood

Land Use News Responds:

Thank you for writing and for listening to the Len Tillem Show. Your problem is not unusual. Your neighbor's tree has outgrown its area, and is encroaching on yours. You have the right to trim the tree to the property line so long as you do not damage the tree's health. You may trim off the sprouts that are growing into your yard.

As for the damage to the fence, yes, certainly do send her a letter, as she will be liable. She may want to contact her insurance company. If your letter doesn't work, make sure you document the damage and see about having an attorney write a letter. You might also want to consult an arborist about the condition of the tree. Depending on where it is, its health and soil conditions, it could pose even greater problems as time goes by.

You also do not say where you are. In some areas a redwood is a protected tree, and in others it is considered undesirable.

Best of luck.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

After the Len Tillem Show (KGO 810 AM) on Sunday night, where I talked about neighbor law, barking dogs, trees and even peeping Toms, I started getting emails from interested listeners. I thought I would post some of them and the responses I gave. Please note that my responding to these writers does not constitute giving legal advice and does not establish an attorney/client relationship.

Only letters whose writers have given permission for me to publish them will be posted.

Read on:

Land use News,

I was the probably the last caller for your show on Sunday and after waiting to get on and ask my question time ran out. I have a simple problem. My neighbor has a row of trees on her side of the property line (liquid amber trees). The roots from these trees have pushed up my nice poured concrete pathway on the side of my house . The roots have also pushed up my driveway concrete, cracking it in many places. Is she libel for the damage created? If I take her to small claims court, do I have a foot to stand on?

I am also not sure what to do for a solution to the problem. If I remove the concrete and replace it the roots will create the same situation in the future. Any ideas?


Unhappy neighbor

Dear Unhappy neighbor,

Thank you for listening to the Len Tillem Show. Sorry we were not able to get to your call. If the roots of these trees are truly tearing up your driveway and pathway, it is most likely the neighbor will be liable for it. You need to have the roots examined by a consulting arborist who can tell you whether the roots can be safely cut on your side without compromising the tree's health. If so you can cut them, and put in a root barrier to keep the problem from happening again.

The general rule is you may trim a neighbor's tree to the property line so long as you do not damage the tree's health.

If this is impossible, you may still bring an action for nuisance and damages. In small claims, the limit is only $7500, but that maybe enough to repair and/or move your driveway, if necessary. You would need to consult some kind of contractor to see if there is a stronger material to use on the new driveway, to prevent future damages.

Sometimes an arborist's report and letter from an attorney will do the trick to get the neighbor to remedy the problem. Have you discussed wit with the neighbor yet? I would advise doing that, in the hopes you can resolve it amicably.

Best of luck.

Land Use News