It is important that landowners know their responsibility for damage caused by the trees located on their property. The answer is complicated and varied dependent upon a number of facts. Simple isn’t it? It is the duty of every property owner to maintain their property, including trees, in a safe and hazard free condition. In fact, you could even be considered responsible for its maintenance. Apparently, the roots … Not so. Laws vary somewhat but most states say that if the roots of a homeowner’s tree damages a neighbor’s drive or home, then that’s the n… Check us out on the Web at: www.bpelaw.com. Property owner’s are often upset when a neighbor’s trees drop leaves, or fruit, or branches, or even limbs onto their property. See, the end of the drought meant we all got quite a bit more rain than usual, which made the ground soggy and easy for roots … back in 1994, Lucy doesn’t have the right to force her neighbor to remove those roots, even if they’re on her property. Thanks to the increase lately in these pipe problems, it’s my guess that plumbers throughout the area have had to brush up on some of the legal issues that surround these types of situations in order to help their clients out. It’s tempting to want to try and force your neighbor to make it go away, I know, but stay focused on what’s going to be most productive. Last week my neighbor discovered damage to her sewer line. If the tree’s owner failed to act “reasonably” in periodically inspecting and maintaining his trees, he may be held liable for subsequent damage to others. The general rule is that any part of the tree encroaching onto your property is yours to do with as you please. If the tree is causing actual damage such as roots uplifting a deck or branches pushing down a fence, the owner can be held liable for “nuisance”, that is allowing his use of his property to damage the property of another. Court’s may often find sufficient evidence that the tree’s owner was somehow negligent and thus provide recourse for the injured party. If you love your tree, how about your having the roots cut back professionally so that the neighbors don't damage the tree if they exercise their right to trim back the roots to your property line? Gold River, CA 95670, Click here to read our COVID-19 statement and related updates on COVID-19 legal changes. Disputes related to view obstruction, mess, and property damage can all spark legal problems. My neighbor claims that the roots from my trees have raised the concrete of his driveway. The California Code for a Landowner's Right to Trim Trees. If the tree is causing actual damage such as roots uplifting a deck or branches pushing down a fence, the owner can be held liable for “nuisance”, that is allowing his use of his property to damage the property of another. 5. All stated the neighbor's tree had encroaching roots under the fence and property line causing the damage to the concrete. For instance, California Civil Code 833 and 834 states that trees whose trunks reside on the land of one owner belong to him or her exclusively, even if their roots or branches grow into the neighbor’s property. In California although you may trim back branches which invade your airspace, you cannot legally cut down or harm your neighbor’s trees without beforehand obtaining a court order, or you may be liable for double or treble damages to your neighbor [Civ.C 733]. High winds and heavy rains have caused numerous trees and branches to fall, often onto adjacent properties. The damage caused to your neighbor's driveway by the invading roots from your Birds of Paradise are what is known as a continuing nuisance. Learn what California law has to say about trees in HOAs. Under the common law of torts, your duty is to keep the tree and its roots off of your neighbors land, and to use due care to not impose an unreasonable risk of harm to your neighbor's property. the civil code of the state of california. Trees contribute to the value and enjoyment of your property, as well as to the overall ambiance and quality of life in a community. effect of the 1872 codes. So, ultimately, my advice to Lucy would be to work closely with a local plumbing expert who has handled this situation before. Can a property owner use “self-help” to stop damage from a neighbor’s trees? In California, trees belong exclusively to the owner of land where the trunk of the tree is located, even if the tree’s roots or branches extend into another person’s property. Therefore your neighbor can sue you for damages. If you notice any of these problems, call a plumbing professional right away. Tree law may apply even though Birds of Paradise are not trees. The first step in understanding if your home insurance will cover tree damage is to understand if the damage was sudden and accidental, or if it would be considered gradual damage. The fear of a tree falling on your home and the nuisance created by overgrown trees and shrubbery, root systems attacking your water pipes, and fence damage often lead homeowners to seek out legal advice and potential remedies. There are two ways you’re going to have to approach it: from a legal perspective, meaning what can you do to encourage your neighbor to help; and from a plumbing perspective, which basically means how do you get those burst pipes fixed. Already registered? 6. For example, was the tree dead or dying from an insect infestation? Now, I’ve talked to a lawyer friend of mine about all this at length and he tells me that, while all that is basically true, case law allows for a bit of a gray area. As such, you cannot charge a neighbor for the removal of the tree roots that are causing property damage. (To learn what you must prove in order to get actual damages, see Nolo’s article When a Neighbor Damages or Destroys Your Tree.) We are open to safely serve you during this time. A practice note on liability for damage caused by tree roots and overhanging branches. 4. For branches and debris, the cost of legal action can easily exceed the cost of clean-up. Legal Action When Neighbors’ Tree Roots Are Causing Damage in California Lucy’s situation—wherein a neighbors’ tree has roots that have reaped havoc on her underground pipes—has been a fairly common one for homeowners throughout Northern California this year. Root damage from construction. I asked the … like myself come across all the time. But for some homeowners, recognizing that a rupture has taken place may not be so obvious. However, an act of God is not always a successful defense from liability particularly if there has been personal injury or significant property damage. Under case law, the tree owner can also, recover for the damage caused to the aesthetic value of the tree. negligence, nuisance, trespassing, as . California Tree Damage Laws. If you do harm the tree, you could be found liable for up to three times the value of the tree. With summer upon us, we will shortly suffer through the thunderstorms and extreme winds. The tree roots are part of your property. practice areas Real Estate Law. division 1. persons [38 - 86] division 2. property [654 - 1422] division 3. obligations [1427 - 3273] division 4. If a person is selling a home and there is any history of problems with adjacent trees, this should always be disclosed even if there has been no actual physical damage. We have two trees that our . Here are some signs to look for if you suspect one of your underground pipes has ruptured or been damaged by tree roots: If you’re experiencing backups in your drains, bathtub, or toilet, it’s probably because your home’s connection to. well as the $15.6K for their new line. If my neighbor's tree branches hang over my yard, can I trim them? definitions and sources of law. However, to the extent that they grow into or above a neighbor’s property, encroaching branches and roots belong to the individual upon whose land they encroach. But if little harm is being done to the neighbor’s property, and greater harm would occur to the tree by the roots’ removal, he may not have a right to have them removed. Free trial. We guarantee our service techs will treat you like a valued neighbor. Trees are beautiful, but they can cause headaches for homeowners association residents and board members. They've replaced . Lucy writes: “I always thought my neighbors and I were on great terms. So, my question is, what can I do about a neighbors’ tree roots causing damage in my California neighborhood?”, Sorry to hear you’re dealing with this problem, Lucy, and I know it might feel like this little soggy mess is unique to you. In general, it is recommended not to remove more than 20 to 30% of the tree's live tissue, either above or below ground at a given time. Backups are a nasty business, as the sewage trying to leave your house is pushed back in. As mentioned in prior Articles, California law is clear that a neighbor has to act “reasonably” in trying to stop actual or potential damage from a neighbor’s trees. You may not go onto the neighbor's property or destroy the tree. Your community is our community. I own a 3.5 story tree that is within 15 feet of the sewer line. Sign in to your account. Call (415) 788-1881 - Wolff Law Office is dedicated to serving our clients with a range of legal services including Construction Litigation and Real Estate cases. 15. What about branches and debris that falls into the adjacent property? Basically, it depends on how much harm the tree roots are causing. That statute is punitive. Kidding aside, this really isn’t your problem. A trained professional can use video equipment to determine whether a pipe has already been shifted or breached, determining beyond a doubt that it must be fixed. Inevitably these storms will lead to falling branches and sometimes, even the toppling of entire trees. The owner of the tree may be responsible for damage caused to a neighbor’s property but only if it can be found that the tree’s owner failed to properly maintain the tree. In the case of my neighbors’ tree, the problem is that those roots seem to have gone right into one of the pipes for the plumbing system of my home, causing it to burst. In California, specific laws allow you to recover additional damages if someone deliberately damages your tree. The question arises: Who is responsible to clean up the damage? The key to resolving the issue is to take action. Call a plumber right away. Yes. The only nuisance we ever had from this tree was regarding its leaves. From furnace replacements to plumbing repairs and energy-efficient window upgrades, each of the Bell Brothers services is designed to ensure your home stays a cozy sanctuary for your family. Must a Seller disclose an offending tree? Or, even if it would harm the tree, if the damage they are doing to the neighbor’s property is substantial, then maybe the roots and tree need to go. Call an expert, then try to extend an olive branch and stay on good terms. Encroaching Roots Causing Property Damage in California I recently purchased my home in California in Nov.2005 and had knowledge of some broken concrete in the back patio area. 3. neighbors state have caused damage . If you would like a consultation with us, please call our office at (916) 966-2260 or e-mail Steve Beede at sjbeede@bpelaw.com. The contractor charged over $12K to completely replace the line from the street to the house. Unfortunately, our relationship has kind of soured as of late—and it’s all because of my neighbors’ old mulberry tree. In the 35 years as neighbors, this is . After all, that’s exactly what you are. If the amount of damage is more substantial than the damage that trimming back the roots would do to the tree, it’s Lucy’s right to have her neighbor remove them. If they refuse, then the neighbor should engage the services of a licensed arborist to trim the roots and branches is such a way as to reduce the property damage while not injuring the tree. We commonly see this term as an exclusion from insurance policy coverage. to their sewer line. Is the Tree’s Owner liable for any Damage? No such action should be undertaken without first seeking to get the tree’s owner to remedy the problem. There may also be local ordinances that conflict with that court decision, which was made in a court of appeals. I know I have. However, the law only allows tree trimming and tree cutting up to the property line. An Act of God is an unforeseeable event, ie: heavy storms, wind, lightning, that causes trees or limbs to fall down. Cal The remainder of this article sets forth the general rules regarding your neighbors landscaping and trees. Please feel free to contact us if you need legal advice and are interested in seeing if we can help you. Where tree roots cause damage to a neighbouring property, the owner of the tree can be liable, under the law of nuisance, for such damage. If a tree causes damage to a neighboring property, the person who owns the tree may be liable if the party who suffered the damage can prove negligence on behalf of the property owner. 2339 Gold Meadow Way Ste 101 Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California. preliminary provisions. Liability for damage caused by tree roots. He or she should be well versed in both the local ordinances, as well as how much damage is being caused. If this cannot be done, then the neighbor should bring a legal action against the tree’s owner for nuisance which could compel him to trim or even remove the tree and repair any damage. In fact, I’ve been having standing water seep up into my yard because of it. In California, Civil Code 833 that “Trees whose trunks stand wholly upon the land of one owner belong exclusively to him, although their roots grow into the land of another.” Property owners must be mindful of tree maintenance. Your home insurance covers certain risks and perils. We would like to hear from you. 2) You can sue in the small claims court for up to $7,500 if the amount of damages exceed $7,500 you would have to file a lawsuit in the local Superior Court. To access this resource, sign up for a free trial of Practical Law. In California, if someone damages your tree, you can recover your actual damages (usually, what you paid for the tree or what it would cost to replace the tree). We’d say hello after work and we’d watch each other’s houses whenever one of us went out of town on vacation. The plumbing side of Lucy’s conundrum is a good deal simpler than the legal side, at least as far as I’m concerned. If Lucy can, however, determine that removing or trimming back the roots won’t harm her neighbor’s tree, she has the legal right to ask her neighbor to have the work done for her. Northern California’s Leading HVAC, Window, Plumbing, and Sewer Blog. So if your recoverable damages … Tree ownership is based upon where the trunk is situated. Please send us a message by filling out the form below and we will get back with you shortly. California tree law between neighbors requires a landowner be responsible for maintaining a tree's foliage in a hazard-free condition. Tree species react differently to construction changes, but all trees take several years to acclimate and recover. , possibly due to a ruptured pipe. They discovered tree roots as the culprit. It’s likely he made the same assertion to the previous owner who apparently didn’t think to divulge it to you under the disclosure portion on the sales contract, possibly because he wanted to hide the fact or because it had little or no merit. Free Practical Law trial. The roots of the tree grew into property owned by a man named Patel. Generally such failure is considered to be “negligence” and a negligence owner can be liable for all damage resulting from such negligence. During the rainy winter, I talked about related issues like, why common storm damage to plumbing can come as a surprise. It’s on her side of the property, but its roots extend into my yard underground. The injured party may start a civil action or “abate the nuisance” themselves. However, in general the damaged party still must prove that the owner was negligent… most often failure to properly maintain the tree. But if the opposite is true, she just has to deal with it. Vogel’s case on the merits was weak as he did not have conclusive evidence that the damage to the parking area was caused by the root system of the trees; that the blockage of his sewage system was caused by the leaves of the trees; or that the leaves in the swimming pool and gutters were exclusively from his neighbour’s trees. tree roots and sewer lines. In this case, a man named Booska owned a 30- to 40-year-old Monterey pine. So while the neighbor cannot force the tree’s owner to clean up or pay for the mess, a co-operative approach may serve to maintain the relationship. Giant oak trees can provide great shade and color but the leaves can go everywhere creating a clean-up mess. My neighbors, for whatever reason, have been less than accommodating about all this, saying they’re really sorry but they’re not going to do anything to help me out. 2. If it’s on the property line, it is deemed to be owned by the owners of both properties. I can assure you, though, that this is actually an issue. Court Awards Double Damages in Boundary Line Tree Dispute Between California Neighbors - San Francisco Construction Litigation Lawyer … The rule should always be: if the Seller thinks that this has been an issue, they can be reasonably certain that their buyer may feels the same. us for a minimum of $75K for . As mentioned in prior Articles, California law is clear that a neighbor has to act “reasonably” in trying to stop actual or potential damage from a neighbor’s trees. 3) Not if the tree roots are causing damage to the property, but the roots would have to be trimmed removed by a professional. Or did the owner trim the tree on his side only and thus render the tree unstable? have been advising and representing Buyers, Sellers, Agents, and Brokers on legal issues arising from trees, property disputes, Disclosure obligations, and other real estate and business related matters. But, absent some physical damage, California law does not provide any relief for the offended neighbor – unless they can prove the tree was improperly maintained. Code of Civil Procedure § 733 and Civil Code § 3346 allow a tree owner to recover up to three times the cost of repairing the damaged tree. Not necessarily. By law, you have the right to trim branches and limbs that extend past the property line. I’m thinking maybe state law has something to say about this. Tree Damage Covered by Insurance . 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