My Neighbor Is Complaining about a Tree on My Property. What Are My Rights?

If you and your neighbor have argued about a tree that borders both of your property lines, you’re not alone. Neighborly disputes about encroaching or overhanging trees are quite common and can make life very unpleasant.


Trees are beautiful, but they can also be a nuisance depending on their location, size, and root structure. In some cases, roots extend far out from the base of the tree, cracking pavement, driveways, sidewalks, and even a home’s foundation. It’s also common for homeowners to complain about trees with branches that hang over their property, including roofs, decks, and driveways. When housing development planners place homes very close together, tree disputes invariably increase.

Who Owns the Tree?

Some trees and their root systems are so vast, they spread onto more than one property. Regardless of where a tree’s branches or roots extend, however, its trunk location determines who owns it. If the trunk is located in your yard, you are responsible for the tree. In cases where a tree trunk straddles two property lines, the adjacent homeowners share equal ownership and responsibility of the tree. This also means that both homeowners must consent before moving the tree or cutting it down.

The Right to Trim and Prune the Tree

Although the tree’s trunk determines who owns it, adjacent property owners still have certain important rights. For example, an adjacent property owner is permitted to trim the branches if they overhang or otherwise encroach onto his property. If the adjacent landowner trims the branches back, however, he is only allowed to trim them back to the property line.


Similarly, adjacent property owners have the right to collect any fruit that overhangs onto their property from a tree’s branches. On the other hand, adjacent property owners can’t enter the tree owner’s property to remove branches without the owner’s permission. In extreme cases, where a tree’s roots or branches have caused property damage and can only be safely removed by a tree specialist, the adjacent owner has the right to hire an arborist to perform the work and bill the tree’s owner for the services.


In most situations, it’s best for both property owners to communicate and cooperate. Any time you interact with your neighbor regarding the tree, document your conversation, any correspondence exchanged, and any work performed. Keep detailed records of the dispute and attempts to resolve it.

California Eviction and Real Estate Law

Attorney Kirkman J. Hoffman has more than 20 years’ experience representing commercial and residential landlords, owners, and property managers in Silicon Valley and the surrounding regions. Contact the team at Hoffman Law Group today at (408) 241-9620 to discuss your real estate or eviction matter.


This website has been prepared by Hoffman Law Group, APC for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.