Can my neighbour do this?

clairabelle(z4 Quebec)June 16, 2007

This morning, as we were standing under our 60 yr-old maple tree out front, looking at a couple of dead branches which needed to be removed, my neighbour (who knows nothing about gardening, hates flowers, lawmowers, trees, and particularly shade, as all she does all day is lie out in the sun and bake)comes over and tells us that since she's adding a deck to the front of her house, SHE will be cutting some of the branches of our glorious maple because they arc out over her driveway, supposedly soiling her car(which is never parked under them!), and causing too much shade on her soon-to-be front deck (the maple provides shade about 4 hours a day, from 2 to 6 p.m., on only a third of her house)


Can she do this??? She'd like to cut away (as in 'in a straight line') all branches overhanging her driveway.

Help !!

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I believe that in Ontario she certainly can do this,


she would be liable for the damages if the tree sickens or dies. A mature maple is likely worth several thousand dollars. She would be better served, and the tree would look nicer too, if you had the tree professionally pruned (and she paid for it).

and another HOWEVER,

Many trees located in front of houses actually belong to the city. Check with city hall first, if it's a city tree, generally only the city is allowed to prune it.

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 10:02PM
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wildie(z3 Alberta)

In most area's if a tree hangs over another property they have the right to cut it back to the property line.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 4:15PM
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First she will need a permit for her front deck, you might be able to block that. Tell her you don't want her to cut your tree, and if she wants any cooperation from you in the future she should leave it alone. If she wants to make any additions to her property later on she will need your consent. And if she leaves your tree alone she has a better chance of getting your permission on future projects.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 4:27PM
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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

In most places, people can trim back any parts of a tree that overhang their property line. You can call the building department at your city to ask if that is true locally.

Make sure she has a qualified person do the cutting so that the tree heals properly. Cutting branches may make it look funny but shouldn't damage the tree. You could also ask her to ask the cutter if cutting the branches will actually reduce her shade. Depending on the direction of her front yard from the tree, the remaining branches on your side of the line may still shade her house. And she can't demand that you cut your side.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 10:55PM
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clairabelle(z4 Quebec)

Thanks so much for your advice. I checked with the city and my neighbour cannot cut the branches herself but FORCE us, with the proper documents, to cut the branches. I told her we will cut as many as we can without damaging the tree. I checked again yesterday and the shade only occurs from 2 to 4 p.m. and only on a portion of... the new carport. And only two large branches drop over her driveway; we will remove these. The maple actually is two separate trees stuck together so the 'operation' should not kill the tree. Hopefully we will come to a compromise; it would be a shame to wind up 'fighting neighbours'!
We will call a professional to do the job. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 1:41PM
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It's always good to be nice to your neighbors. It's a wise thing to do. What you've done is simply to show that you cared enough to listen & act on her concerns. One thing to bear in mind as well is that of safety concerns -- what would happen if that overreaching branch fell into her area and did damage to her property or to her. Your action will help in avoiding future disputes or even legal problems.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 3:35PM
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I live in Scarborough Ontario. We just moved in to our house two years ago. Things are going well until my neighbour complained of overhanging branches of the big oak tree (more than 30 cm diameter) in our backyard. He also complained of fallen leaves and nuts in their backyard. I contacted the local arborist and made an appointment for tree maintenance which includes thinning and removal of the dead branches, basically to remove any hazards.. I also requested pruning. The arborist said that for pruning, our responsibility is only on our side and if they want their side pruned the way they like it, they will have to pay for it, and request permission from us if they want to do so.

The neighbour didn't agree with the what the arborist was saying and he said that its our responsibility to prune the other side the way they want it pruned.

I'm at a loss now as we are just new home owners and we are faced with this situation. Any advise would greatly help.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 10:53PM
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"The neighbour didn't agree with the what the arborist was saying and he said that its our responsibility to prune the other side the way they want it pruned. "

The arborist is correct, your neighbour is not.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 8:32PM
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personally, I would take care of the pruning if that tree grew on my side of the property. It's just being neighborly. I have to think that the branches originated from my property.

Legally it would not be my problem but that of the neighbors. But the question is, do you intend to live in that house for a long time and do you want to have ill feelings between you & the neighbors. Is this going to be a headache down the line?

Can a compromise be worked out? (They share in the cost of pruning that part of the tree). Are the branches so large that it requires an arborist to do the job? Can you not do this yourself with a telescoping rachet saw?


    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 12:33PM
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I know this tread has been going for 2 years now, but every time I see it I remember what my next door neighbor did to a tree of the neighbor on the other side. It was an apple tree on the north side of her fence and whenever the neighbors were away she'd climb the ladder and hack away at it with a kitchen knife. The tree was on the north side of her and it wasn't throwing shade on her vegetable garden. There is only a trunk standing now. She has been growing winter squash for years and the vines keep going over the fence to this same neighbor. At one time this same person was on the neighbors driveway knocking down birds nest under the eaves because they were making noise.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 10:53AM
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Once again, a property owner has every right to do whatever he/.she wishes to do about neighbors' plants encroaching into his/her property. Although it is always a good thing to be able to talk to one's neighbor before taking action. however if that neighbor won't act on the concerns, then the property owner should be free to do what they want to do. That neighbor in turn has every right to deal with any plants encroaching onto their property. The problem with many trees grown in tiny properties are they do grow large and start encroaching onto other properties. People have to be more careful. There was a case where a neighbor planted a weeping willow and the roots of this tree managed to get into the basement of a neighbor and destroy the drainage system.. Flooding resulted and so major repair work was needed. About birds and nests. Personally, I think that the neighbor would have been doing them a favour because birds can be damaging to the property. Not to mention feces from birds is a health hazzard. However this would have to be done before eggs are laid or after the chicks have grown and left. Otherwise it's an issue. I've had issues with birds. Cute as they are, these birds managed to destroy a vent cover, build their nests within and destroyed the vent itself. I had to wait out til the chicks were grown and gone before taking action to block them from returning. Cost quite a bit of money as I needed a professional to handle the repairs. Maple trees, though favoured by many is notoriously susceptible to tree rot and falling branches are just but one of the problems of this tree.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Hi everyone,

My question kind of relates to the topic in this thread and I live in Toronto. A year ago we've bought a house and the backyard was in really bad shape. In the corner there is a big maple tree which was already big and damaging neighbours fence (this was in October 2012). However we've never heard any complains from them.

Because the backyard was in such a bad shape we decided that it's time make it look better. First thing first we started to put a fence but all of a sudden a neighbour who has a fence next to that maple tree came by and requested that either we remove it quietly and she will ask her husband to help or she will have to call a lawyer. We told her that the tree is too big to be removed without a permission which she said that it's not and it's our responsibility to be removed as it is damaging her fence. Next day we had an arborist called in (somebody complained that we removed a cherry tree - but the tree size was in accordance with law, so he had no objections). At the same time my brother asked him about the other tree that was next to the fence and he said that it is big and cannot be removed without a permission.

So my question is, can this neighbour take us to court? If so, on what grounds and what outcome there might be for us?

Thank you!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 10:53PM
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I would take the advice of an arborist over that of your neighbour. Your neighbour doesn't care if you get fined, they just want the tree gone. Frankly, unless the tree poses an imminent hazard (to property or life), you're going to have difficulty getting a permit.

If the tree is damaging the fence and that's the story they're trying to manipulate you with, they're idiots. Tell them to spend the $200 bucks they were going to use just for the lawyer consult and use it to adapt the fence to the everyone a lot of time and money. Your removal costs and (maybe) city fine will be 5-10x that. Taking the legal route will cost both households a massive amount more.

Don't be intimidated into making a poor decision.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 11:21PM
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I'd say not a chance. The tree is in your side of the property and it's yours. The person is being a bully. Let her prove there's a safety issue and which can then be used to file for the permission to remove the tree. The cost for her having to take you to court is expensive.. from getting a lawyer to do write a letter, do actually filing legal papers, to then going to court.

Having said that, I hope you ask your arborist to write up a report on the tree just to be on the safe side. If he says it's a healthy tree and so you have no reason to have to take it down.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 3:49PM
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