We have had some pretty serious storms this summer so here at Bergmann Law we wouldn’t blame you for looking twice at your neighbor’s big, beautiful tree. Especially if it has branches hanging over your yard or property.
The New Jersey Supreme Court holds that tree branches which overhang a property line can constitute a nuisance (Ackerman v. Ellis, 81 N.J.L. 1, 79 A. 883 (Sup. Ct. 1911)), and you have the right to trim any trees or shrubs that extend over into your property, so long as you do not harm or destroy the trees or plants and you only trim up to the property line. (Wegener v. Sugerman, 104 N.J.L. 26, 138 A. 699 (Sup. Ct. 1927)).
The same principal applies to the parts of plants that grow underground, too. If you suspect roots from a neighbor’s tree or other greenery are threatening your property, you have the right to remove those roots from your property as long as it does not harm the tree or plant.
But what if you’re not just worried about a couple of limbs? If the entire tree seems like it might be ready to fall onto your house during the next storm things are a little bit different. If the trunk of the tree is contained in your neighbor’s yard, it is your neighbor’s property and you can’t remove the tree yourself. But you can contact your local government. Most local governments have ordinances that prohibit maintaining any dangerous conditions (like hazardous trees) on private property.
Of course, each situation will be different, and resolving issues with neighbors requires a delicate touch. Let us review the facts and provide information about your specific circumstances and local laws, then come up with a plan that keeps your home safe and your relationship with your neighbor on good terms.