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A tree falls across a property line. Who is responsible?

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

Whenever a tree falls across a property line under natural causes, many factors have to be considered before assuming blame or taking any action.

I remember an old job where we had been hired to do a title survey of a certain property. I'll call this property Prop-A. Upon conducting the survey, we came across the owner of the adjoining lot that we will refer to as Prop-B. The owner of Prop-B showed my crew and I a large fallen tree in the back yard, going across the property line between Prop-A and Prop-B. The owner then began mentioning his concerns about the cost to remove the large fallen tree, as well as his opinion on who should be responsible for the bill. Under these conditions there are many factors to be considered. First, the location where the tree stood must be determined. Secondly we must also locate where the fallen tree lays from end to end. Additionally, we could document details on how the fallen tree has affected other parts or possessions of the participating properties (i.e. damaged items & structures). A good surveyor should be able to shed some light in these matters.

However, beyond all the measurements to be discovered it would be wise to consider how the tree was used or enjoyed by the participating neighbors. Was it a nuisance to either or both parties? Was it something they all enjoyed? Did it give them shelter from the heat and other inclement weather? These and other considerations might bring some perspective before we reach for blame.

Note: Please consult a licensed land surveyor, lawyer and any local agencies pertinent to this type of matter.

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