Overhanging Tree Branches: Liability, Laws & Tips to Prevent Damage from Neighbor’s Trees

Overhanging Tree Branches Liability Laws & Tips to Prevent Damage from Neighbors Trees

As a tree owner, you have to deal with a lot of things other than taking care of a tree, such as cutting the overhanging branches, preventing the roots from preventing to the neighboring area, managing the growth of the limb, etc. The benefits of a tree are numerous, but if not taken care of properly, its roots and branches may discomfort the tree owner and the neighbor.

There are multiple instances in which a tree has its branches overhanging to the extent that it invades your neighbor’s property line. Most of the time, a tree owner does not seriously deal with the trimming of overhanging branches, which affects his neighbor’s safety. Who has the responsibility for trees overhanging branches? In this blog post, we have briefly covered the answer to this most commonly asked question.

Liability of Overhanging Tree BranchesLiability of Overhanging Tree Branches

Knowing who owns the tree is important before understanding who is liable for the overhanging branches. If a tree or multiple trees with their trunks reside in your property line, they belong to you, and so it is your responsibility to sort out its matters. However, if a tree grows on a property line shared by you and your neighbor, you both are responsible for its upkeep.

As the tree grows older and taller, its branches grow outwards and extend towards neighboring areas. If the overhanging tree branches obstruct the property in front of your neighbor, you will be ordered to remove the tree or trim its branches. However, Can I Throw Neighbor’s Tree Branches Back in Their Yard? The answer is typically no. Even if the branches are overhanging your property, you do not have the right to cut them or throw them back into your neighbor’s yard without their permission. The branches are still part of your neighbor’s tree. If the branches are a nuisance, the appropriate action is to speak with your neighbor and politely ask them to prune the tree. You might want to consider hiring a professional arborist to trim the branches at your own expense or cutting them yourself. The local laws differ for each state, and you should know your limitations and rights as a tree owner. Generally, if a tree has branches overhanging the neighbor’s property, it is the tree owner’s responsibility to trim them.

Talking about the laws in various states of the USA, in California, it is the responsibility of the tree owner to trim the branches which are affecting the neighboring property in any way, while In New York, the tree owner is not responsible for cutting the extended branches in your neighbor’s property. The neighbor may seek a court order if the tree owner is not trimming the branches as per laws. Similarly, if the tree is diseased or dead, it is the responsibility of the tree owner to get it removed, and not just that, if the diseased tree is causing any damage to the neighboring property, the tree owner will be responsible for covering those expenses as well.

How To Determine The Liability of The Tree That Falls on a Neighbor’s Property?Tree That Falls on a Neighbor’s Property

The liability of the fallen tree is determined by its health at the time of the fall. If it is healthy and has no disease symptoms, the damage caused on your neighbor’s property due to its fall will be covered by the neighbor. Most of the time, home insurance policies cover these types of expenses.

On the other hand, if a tree is diseased or infested and produces any hazard to the neighbor’s property, the tree owner is responsible for covering all the expenses. To ensure the health of a tree, it is important to seek professional help from a certified arborist or tree services provider to save yourself from massive expenses later. Also, according to the ‘view ordinances’ in various states of the US, if a tree has grown up to a height that it is obstructing the neighbor’s views, the tree owner will be ordered to get it removed or trim it so it may not affect the value of the neighboring property.

How To Determine If the Tree Belongs to My Property?Tree Belongs to My Property

Before determining the ownership of a tree and its responsibilities, it is important to know your property lines. For this purpose, you may conduct a property survey to determine your property lines. Now if the tree’s trunk is growing at your property line, it belongs to you and makes you responsible for its maintenance. If the tree trunk crosses your property line, it belongs to you, and once its branches start overhanging your neighbor’s property, you will be responsible for getting those trimmed. You should also do regular property inspections if the damaged branches are affecting your property, and when the neighbor complains of his property damage, you should take important measures to prevent the damage from expanding anymore.

Tips to Prevent Damage from Overhanging BranchesPrevent Damage from Overhanging Branches

Overhanging branches could be really damaging to property and even human lives. The damage can be really costly to recover, so it is important to maintain your tree before it expands and costs you a massive amount to recover. Overgrown trees can be threatening in various ways, so to prevent the damage, you may follow a few precautionary measures.

  • Tree trimming regularly is important to prevent the overhanging branches from affecting your property. Refrain from doing this when the weather is stormy so the branches may not fall into your or your neighbor’s home.
  • Cut the dead branches so they may not become a safety hazard or spread with wind or rain.
  • Think wisely before planting a tree, and always choose an area that is not too close to the buildings. The trees which are planted closer to the neighboring property when they grow taller result in causing massive damage to the property in the future.
  • Ensure that the tree is healthy by regularly fertilizing, mulching, and pruning its branches. A poorly maintained tree also has a higher chance of getting diseased or infested, which causes massive troubles later.


It is advised to keep a safe distance when planting trees close to property lines to prevent future disputes with the neighbors. The precise distance could change based on local laws and restrictions. If you want to find out the exact rules for your area, you should speak with local authorities or zoning departments. You can reduce the possibility of future issues involving overhanging branches or root damage by following these recommendations. Contact a tree services specialist to find peace of mind when overhanging tree branches become a cause of worry or a possible source of conflict.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do the rules say about trimming the tree branches?

According to the law, you can cut or trim the branches of a neighboring tree if the branches or limbs expand in your property line.

Why is it important to cut overhanging branches?

Overhanging branches cause trouble during heavy storm days. If the branches are not trimmed at the right time, it can cause severe damage to the property and even to the people living nearby.

What are the benefits of tree pruning?

Tree pruning is important to ensure that the tree grows in a certain configuration. The asymmetrical branches should be trimmed not to affect the tree’s growth and ensure that the growth is n symmetrical.

Can I cut the branches of my neighbor’s tree without permission?

You cannot trim the branches of a tree that belongs to your neighbor, as it may land you in trouble. In some states, entering into your neighbor’s property and trimming his tree’s branches without his permission can land you in legal trouble.

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