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A few comments:

1-If you kill the tree purposefully (which may mean trimming the roots back to the property line, you will be liable.

2-Sounds like a great neighbor if he actually cut the branches that were hitting your house. This is usually your responibility.

3-Check town ordinances... some towns consider trees withing X feet from property line community property regardless of who plants them

4-The standard procedure to stop root penetration into an area is to spead copper sulfate in the areas you do not want have roots. Trees hate the "taste" and do not go near it. Commonly put in around sewer lines/drains/etc.

SteveG

small claims court with the estimate to repair all damages. Short sweet and to the point.

I would talk to the neighbor first about your concerns and see if he will remedy the situation. if he's a jerk and you don't care about maintaining a relationship then the solution is to get estimates of the damage incurred and take him to small claims. you may also want to take a look to see if it's damaged any city property in which case you can get the city involved.

You can cut those roots out and do just about anything you want on your property. If your neighbor has any class he will pay for the damage and install a root dam. I went through a property line dispute with my neighbors about 5 years ago and had similar issues with a tree that was right on the property line(a little different than OP's situation because we co-owned the tree). Laws vary from state to state, but the bottom line is that you have to, and are allowed by law, to protect your property. In case your neighbor wants to take you to court for cutting out roots, save any letters, notes, and document any attempts you made to find a remedy without using the legal system. A judge will not look kindly on you if you do not make a reasonable attempt to resolve this first without court intervention. And take lots of dated photographs and make a video. The more documentation you have, the better off you will be.

"It is, the duty of the one who is the owner of the offending agency to restrain its encroachment upon the property of another, not the duty of the victim to defend or protect himself against such encroachment and its consequent injury. "

I had a situation several years ago where an 80 ft pine tree was growing on my land. It had been there since well before I bought the property 7 years prior to that. Anyway a storm came through and blew over the tree. It fell through my neighbor’s garage. I say through and not on because the tree cut the garage in half. I saw the tree the next morning and called me insurance provider to start the recovery process. My agent told me that when my tree fell on my neighbors property it became his tree and that my insurance would not be covering anything. I was on good terms with my neighbors so I walked next door to give him the bad news. Lucky for me, he had already called his insurance company as well and they told him that they would cover everything. They called it "an act of God" and said that it happens all the time.

I know this will not help the OP but there seemed to be many other questions after that about trees falling. I'm sorry I don’t have an answer for the OP but I'm helping whenever I can.

I had issue with my neighbor ,too. You should call your city(town)hall and ask for regulation. In new york, trees next to city street must be take care by city, but in the backyard it is yours problem. Don't do anything to tree, because, if you trim it or cut roots even on your property and tree die - you will be responsible.

sgogo said:   1-If you kill the tree purposefully (which may mean trimming the roots back to the property line, you will be liable.

According to this article, the neighbor can trim the roots at anytime without permission and if it damages the tree or affects it's stability, it just becomes more of a liability to the tree-owner. The laws look like whomever owns the tree is responsible for it and the damage.

http://nylawthoughts.com/2010/06/14/a-root-problem-when-tree-roo...

Al3xK said:   sgogo said:   1-If you kill the tree purposefully (which may mean trimming the roots back to the property line, you will be liable.

According to this article, the neighbor can trim the roots at anytime without permission and if it damages the tree or affects it's stability, it just becomes more of a liability to the tree-owner. The laws look like whomever owns the tree is responsible for it and the damage.

http://nylawthoughts.com/2010/06/14/a-root-problem-when-tree-roo...


Yes, and I probably would not recommend this particular lawyer

Here she says the opposite:

"Your neighbor has a right to trim the branches up to the property line. She can trim the branches any way she would like as long as she does not kill the remaining tree. "

http://nylawthoughts.com/category/neighbors-trees/

Unfortunately, you really cannot get solid legal advice on the internet because each case is different.

Also, lawyers always provide the most conservative response. Obviously, that differs significantly if you are on the other side of the argument. Had the person asked "Can I cut the roots up to the property line...." the lawyer would be conservative and say no.

I would recommend OP talks to a lawyer. In my town, cutting down a neighbors tree (or damaging it so it needs to be removed) carries a $10k fine and you have to replace the tree with the same type and height, which in some cases can be pretty pricey.

SteveG

Thanks again for all your input. I don't want to kill or damage the trees-I like the shade and privacy they afford. They relationship with the neighbor has been cordial over the years-quiet, hardly ever see him. I don't want things to get nasty. I just want to have a good idea where I stand on the liability issue before I talk to him. I know I should see a lawyer but money is an issue now.

BEEFjerKAY said:   ... Especially if it's been a few dry growing seasons, the roots will seek out -- and penetrate -- the sprinkler system like radar. Same reason as why Roto Rooter guys stay in business.

I am not a root expert, but roots do not penetrate sealed sprinkler pipe.

Roto rooter is usually responding to waste/drain pipes which are either perforated (so they leak) or were not installed properly. Many contractors do not glue these pipes when installing them so they leak a little at the joints, inviting the roots over. This is actually an installation error. It gets worse if the pipes are above the frost line, where heaving occurs and moves the pipes out of line.

Good contractors make the pipes water-tight and sprinkle Copper sulfate into the backfill.

Sprinkler pipes are high pressure and should be completely sealed. I cannot see how the would be damaged by roots.

SteveG

tjo said:   Thanks again for all your input. I don't want to kill or damage the trees-I like the shade and privacy they afford. They relationship with the neighbor has been cordial over the years-quiet, hardly ever see him. I don't want things to get nasty. I just want to have a good idea where I stand on the liability issue before I talk to him. I know I should see a lawyer but money is an issue now. I'd think you have a right to repair your heads and sidewalk, and if you need to take care of roots and protect from further damage then okay. You can't make the direction a tree grows or its roots a liability, esp one 10 ft inside the owners property line.

sgogo said:   BEEFjerKAY said:   ... Especially if it's been a few dry growing seasons, the roots will seek out -- and penetrate -- the sprinkler system like radar. Same reason as why Roto Rooter guys stay in business.

I am not a root expert, but roots do not penetrate sealed sprinkler pipe.

Roto rooter is usually responding to waste/drain pipes which are either perforated (so they leak) or were not installed properly. Many contractors do not glue these pipes when installing them so they leak a little at the joints, inviting the roots over. This is actually an installation error. It gets worse if the pipes are above the frost line, where heaving occurs and moves the pipes out of line.

Good contractors make the pipes water-tight and sprinkle Copper sulfate into the backfill.

Sprinkler pipes are high pressure and should be completely sealed. I cannot see how the would be damaged by roots.
a
SteveG
I don't know about that. There are many cast iron pipes infiltrated by roots.

According to this, (And if you are in CA)

http://www.worldlawdirect.com/forum/neighbor-law/25599-tree-root...

If you cut the roots (without any notification) and it kills the tree, you are responsible.
So you will have some fun on this one.

donotdrinkPBR said:   BradisBrad said:   
uutxs said:   
colto said:   

Thank goodness for everyone stating they aren't a lawyer. 50 bazillion FW icons and we don't even have an "I'm not a lawyer" one.


Seems it would be easier if we all assume each other is not a lawyer unless otherwise stated.

forbin4040 said:   According to this, (And if you are in CA)

http://www.worldlawdirect.com/forum/neighbor-law/25599-tree-root...

If you cut the roots (without any notification) and it kills the tree, you are responsible.
So you will have some fun on this one.


fwiw.... my father in law lives in california, had material damage caused by a neighbor's tree roots, forced the issue upon the neighbor's homeowners insurance after nonresponsiveness from the neighbor, and got paid.

Mature trees can enhance property values and curb appeal, both of the house with the trees and neighboring houses. I'd be thankful you have some mature trees nearby. I certainly wouldn't do anything to harm them.

Better still, get a splice of the tree and plant it in your yard.

What's the difference between if a natural tree starts growing and if your neighbor planted the tree? In both cases, the roots grew into your yard and damaged your property. It's not like your neighbor had malicious intent and purposefully planted the tree in hopes of getting back at you 10 years later.

My suggestion is to talk to your neighbor, saying that the tree is going into your yard. You'd like him to do something about it, but if he doesn't, then ask if it's ok if you dig up the roots that are going into your yard. If he says no, then tell him, you're going to do it anyways since it's your property and you are only doing it to prevent further damage. You're not trying to be mean about it.

Yes it sucks that you might have to end up paying for the full bill to get rid of the roots, but that's part of life. Choose your neighbors wisely. Oh, are you part of an HOA? You might have better recourse if you are.

sgogo said:   BEEFjerKAY said:   ... Especially if it's been a few dry growing seasons, the roots will seek out -- and penetrate -- the sprinkler system like radar. Same reason as why Roto Rooter guys stay in business.

I am not a root expert, but roots do not penetrate sealed sprinkler pipe.

Roto rooter is usually responding to waste/drain pipes which are either perforated (so they leak) or were not installed properly. Many contractors do not glue these pipes when installing them so they leak a little at the joints, inviting the roots over. This is actually an installation error. It gets worse if the pipes are above the frost line, where heaving occurs and moves the pipes out of line.

Good contractors make the pipes water-tight and sprinkle Copper sulfate into the backfill.

Sprinkler pipes are high pressure and should be completely sealed. I cannot see how the would be damaged by roots.

SteveG


The roots could move the ground and force the ground to put extra pressure on the pipes.

BilldaCat said:   If you confront your neighbor, be sure to suit up first - flak jacket and gun.

No need to confront the neighbor immediately. He can start with the gun, confront the tree, and he'll be okay as long as he shouts "it's uncontrolled root growth and it's coming right for us" before he pulls the trigger.

brettdoyle said:   I thought I read a story that someone disliked their neighbor and planted a giant sequoia tree to piss them off that grew to be over 150 feet... In the particular state where it happened nothing could be done because no laws were broken.

well, it was in CALIF, a neighbor installed solar panels.. YEARS after the trees were Established.. Redwoods GROW.. soon ,they shaded the solar panels.. in court.. was determined.. our solar laws Trump nature.. Very Sad indeed

I have pine trees on my property border.. Insurance agent said, they will NOT pay, for preventive trimming, but, AFTER the tree damages their property, my liability would cover.. BUT, the tree, that fell safely on his land.. thats HIS, to keep, and cleanup.. yup, our laws are kinda crazy at times..

Hope you can resolve this and remain civil neighbors. trees are like cats.. I guess, laws can't Control them?

JaxFL said:   sgogo said:   BEEFjerKAY said:   ... Especially if it's been a few dry growing seasons, the roots will seek out -- and penetrate -- the sprinkler system like radar. Same reason as why Roto Rooter guys stay in business.

I am not a root expert, but roots do not penetrate sealed sprinkler pipe.

...Good contractors make the pipes water-tight and sprinkle Copper sulfate into the backfill.

Sprinkler pipes are high pressure and should be completely sealed. I cannot see how the would be damaged by roots.
a
SteveG
I don't know about that. There are many cast iron pipes infiltrated by roots.


I am pretty sure the roots get into those via poor hub connections which leak. The old cast iron main lines were pounded together with lead caulk, which loosens up when the ground heaves. It could also leak at rusted out spots.

Sprinkler pipe generally should not leak.

SteveG

riznick said:   sgogo said:   ...Sprinkler pipes are high pressure and should be completely sealed. I cannot see how the would be damaged by roots.

SteveG


The roots could move the ground and force the ground to put extra pressure on the pipes.


Thats possible, but I think it would have to be within a foot of the sprinkler head to do any damage, and the damage would be minor (mis-aligned head).

SteveG

state law should define who's responsible.

Here's a link to an article from the Seattle Times that gives a great deal of info on various tree related situations including the one you describe:

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=2004071...

As previous posters have noted, individual state laws may vary.


"It is not the law that the owner of premises is to be charged with negligence if she fails to take steps to make his property secure against invasion or injury by an adjoining landowner. It is, the duty of the one who is the owner of the offending agency to restrain its encroachment upon the property of another, not the duty of the victim to defend or protect himself against such encroachment and its consequent injury. "
FORBUS v. KNIGHT, 24 Wn.2d 297, 313 (1945).

http://wa.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.19451...

dcwilbur said:   A ten year old tree, five feet inside his yard, is digging up your sidewalk and destroying your sprinkler system? I gotta see pics to believe this one...

Paulownia trees are VERY fast growing trees. My parents planted one about 6' feet from their driveway and it was easily over 20' tall and majorly pushing up the driveway witin 10 years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulownia

JaxFL said:   sgogo said:   BEEFjerKAY said:   ... Especially if it's been a few dry growing seasons, the roots will seek out -- and penetrate -- the sprinkler system like radar. Same reason as why Roto Rooter guys stay in business.

I am not a root expert, but roots do not penetrate sealed sprinkler pipe.

Roto rooter is usually responding to waste/drain pipes which are either perforated (so they leak) or were not installed properly. Many contractors do not glue these pipes when installing them so they leak a little at the joints, inviting the roots over. This is actually an installation error. It gets worse if the pipes are above the frost line, where heaving occurs and moves the pipes out of line.

Good contractors make the pipes water-tight and sprinkle Copper sulfate into the backfill.

Sprinkler pipes are high pressure and should be completely sealed. I cannot see how the would be damaged by roots.
a
SteveG
I don't know about that. There are many cast iron pipes infiltrated by roots.


They may have been infiltrated but they were in poor condition to begin with.

Roots DO NOT penetrate solid objects.

Thanks aurelius32. Hope that applies in OR

donotdrinkPBR said:   
Thank goodness for everyone stating they aren't a lawyer. 50 bazillion FW icons and we don't even have an "I'm not a lawyer" one.


What I think is funny is that people use "IANAL" as if to say "don't necessarily heed my advice." As if we should trust your advice if you actually are a lawyer? I work with lawyers and they shoot from the hip about stuff they no nothing about all the time. You can only trust your OWN lawyer IF he's done the research because then even when he's wrong you've got the CYA card and can say you were "acting on the advice of your attorney."

sgogo said:   A few comments:

1-If you kill the tree purposefully (which may mean trimming the roots back to the property line, you will be liable.

2-Sounds like a great neighbor if he actually cut the branches that were hitting your house. This is usually your responibility.

3-Check town ordinances... some towns consider trees withing X feet from property line community property regardless of who plants them

4-The standard procedure to stop root penetration into an area is to spead copper sulfate in the areas you do not want have roots. Trees hate the "taste" and do not go near it. Commonly put in around sewer lines/drains/etc.

SteveG


Wrong, wrong and wrong. If you are protecting your property and have tried to remedy the situation by having the neighbor do something first, you will NOT be liable.
If he was such a great neighbor, he would have NEVER let his tree limbs get to the point of touching your home.
The standard procedure to stop root penetration where there are EXISTING ROOT CONDITIONS(as in this case) is a root dam. And for your third point, I have never heard of a town zoning law that would classify a tree near a property line as community property. Could you please give an example? The only time co-ownership is an issue is if the property line runs through the base of the tree.

And if he is responsible for cutting the tree limbs and not the tree owner, what happens if he cuts the tree limbs and the tree dies or is damaged as a result? According to your post, he is liable, yet you say it is his job to cut the limbs in the first place, not the tree owner's. Doesn't make any sense at all.

tjo said:   Thanks aurelius32. Hope that applies in OR



That case is from WA, what makes you think it will apply if you are in OR?

Sounds like you better get in touch with an attorney if you have no idea as to what case law is and how it is relevant.

BradisBrad said:   Wouldn't his homeowner's insurance be liable to pay you any damages his tree incurred upon your property?

I am not a lawyer, nor am I an insuarance agent, nor am I a homeowner. I am however interested in the answer to this though!
Unless the tree was rotted, no.

svr411 said:   BilldaCat said:   If you confront your neighbor, be sure to suit up first - flak jacket and gun.

No need to confront the neighbor immediately. He can start with the gun, confront the tree, and he'll be okay as long as he shouts "it's uncontrolled root growth and it's coming right for us" before he pulls the trigger.


No need to yell, most trees are not deaf.

aaron27 said:   donotdrinkPBR said:   
Thank goodness for everyone stating they aren't a lawyer. 50 bazillion FW icons and we don't even have an "I'm not a lawyer" one.


What I think is funny is that people use "IANAL" as if to say "don't necessarily heed my advice." As if we should trust your advice if you actually are a lawyer? I work with lawyers and they shoot from the hip about stuff they no nothing about all the time. You can only trust your OWN lawyer IF he's done the research because then even when he's wrong you've got the CYA card and can say you were "acting on the advice of your attorney."


IANAL, but I think people do that to protect themselves, in case someone actually used their internet-forum advice and caused damage. Additionally (and again, IANAL), state laws vary but I believe those that use IANAL want to make sure that it does not appear that they are giving legal advice without a license, which is (may be) illegal.

But check for yourself, because IANAL!

It's not like FWF is a paid forum where people specifically seek legal advice. It's too bad there isn't anything in the terms when people join the site stating that the information on the site should never be construed as legal advice (or something to that effect).

Besides, the first few times I saw people typing IANAL I thought they omitted the word love between the I and the A. Not really. But the point being . . . I highly doubt typing an anagram that's not 100% universally recognized (for example, USA is universally recognized) is going to provide blanket protection for someone to say whatever they want without any repercussions. It's just unnecessary and stupid.

donotdrinkPBR said:   <<snip>> It's just unnecessary and stupid.

Hey, just wanted to let you know that your sarcasm detector is broken...


donotdrinkPBR said:   Besides, the first few times I saw people typing IANAL I thought they omitted the word love between the I and the A. Not really. But the point being . . .

Sarcasm emitter ain't much better.

I don't know what the law says, but I remember as a homeowner in California ripping out a Willow tree we planted the first year we owned our home because we realized the roots would eventually grow over into the neighbors pool, and we didn't want that kind of liability. I would assume if we acted on it like that there must have been some reason we feared liability. Willows have very invasive roots, FYI...

angelaira said:   I don't know what the law says, but I remember as a homeowner in California ripping out a Willow tree we planted the first year we owned our home because we realized the roots would eventually grow over into the neighbors pool, and we didn't want that kind of liability. I would assume if we acted on it like that there must have been some reason we feared liability. Willows have very invasive roots, FYI...

Or maybe you had no idea as to your rights under the law? That is the way Big Banking screwed over lots of folks in the repo arena, they preyed upon ignorance.

Inbox said:   Our local Home Depot rents ditch witch trenchers .
You could use one of these to fix your problem. It would dig a trench pretty deep and 4-6 inch wide trench and
The ones I have used will chew through small to medium sized roots. There is also a barrier with a herbicide in it you can put in the trench before youu backfill to keep the roots from encroaching for several years.


Ditch Witch usually goes about 4' deep max. That would be enough to stop any roots that are damaging the sprinkler system but it's not enough to get the roots that could be attacking his foundation very soon. Unfortunately, I can't think of any better solution. Perhaps the neighbor would be willing to remove the tree that is most likely to cause foundation damage if there's just one. Otherwise you could warn him that if his trees damage your foundation you'll have massive, expensive damage, and maybe that will stir him to consider removal.



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