Tree Root Property Damage

This is a discussion on Tree Root Property Damage within the Neighbor Law forum, part of the Other Real Estate Law Matters category; Roots from my neighbor's three 50-foot tall poplar trees have seriously invaded my yard, broken sprinkler lines, and I have ...

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Old Jun 17th, 2009, 07:08 PM   #1
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Angry Tree Root Property Damage

Roots from my neighbor's three 50-foot tall poplar trees have seriously invaded my yard, broken sprinkler lines, and I have hundreds and hundreds of poplar sprouts all over my yard. She agreed to taking the trees down last year, after I discovered the broken sprinkler line on my property and because the growth in my yard increases every year. I took the trees down myself and totally at my expense ($75 for a chainsaw), and I hauled them into my back yard by myself, wtih no offer of help from her, and I spent the next 6 months disposing of them little by little. She would not allow me to use stump killer to get rid of the stumps, which would have also killed the roots. She insisted that the stumps be ground out immediately and she hired a stump grinder. That was another $75 to me, as she asked that I pay half. The stump grinder did further damage by completely breaking off a sprinkler head, and the roots were not killed by grinding the stumps. They have increased their growth in my yard 10 fold, have completely taken over my side yard, have moved to the front of my home and sprouts are coming up through my driveway. They're on their way to my front lawn. They are under the sidewalk and possibly under my house. I worry about structural damage in those two areas. My neighbor feels no responsibility for removal of the roots, nor fixing my damage.
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Old Jun 17th, 2009, 11:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: Tree Root Property Damage

Where the trees there when you bought the house? If so, welcome to an act of God. Sorry… Next time you buy, investigate the surrounding properties.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 10:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: Tree Root Property Damage

I was here first. The prior owner planted the trees, which is one reason why the current owner is claiming no responsibility. My feeling is that the trees became her property and her responsibility when she bought the home.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 12:09 PM   #4
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Trees are trees and they have roots. You may cut the roots invading your yard. As far as their responsibility, trees are trees...
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 12:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Tree Root Property Damage

I have recived responses from two California attorneys who state that tree roots are treated differently than tree limbs and other tree growth which infringes on neighboring property, which I have the right to trim back. Massive, destructive tree roots and their resultant damage are 100% the responsibility of the owner of the tree, according to these attorneys. I'm proceeding accordingly.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 01:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: Tree Root Property Damage

You never said what state. Since it is CA, here ya go...

CA Codes (civ:829-834)

First, Who Owns The Tree.

Pursuant to California Civil Code Section 833, if the trunk of a tree stands wholly on the land of one landowner, that landowner owns the tree regardless of whether its roots, foliage, or branches have grown onto the land of another. However, if the trunk of a tree stands partly on the land of two adjoining landowner, then both landowners own the tree. (Civil Code Section 834).

Although adjoining landowners have almost an unfettered right to trim encroaching limbs, branches and foliage, that is not the case with tree roots. If roots encroach under adjacent property, you can sever the roots but only if the roots are in fact causing damage and then only if done reasonably (which may mean by a professional). If the tree roots of an adjoining landowner do in fact cause damage and the encroached upon landowner acts reasonably to sever the roots causing damage, the owner of the encroaching tree is liable for the actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a direct result of his tree's encroaching roots.

However, If the adjoining landowner negligently severs tree roots and in turn seriously injures, or kills, a tree the owner of the tree may sue. In Booska v. Patel, 24 Cal. App. 4th 1786 (1994), the plaintiff claimed his neighbor negligently cut the roots of his tree which in turn necessitated the tree's removal. The neighbor claimed he had an "absolute right" to cut the tree roots any way he wanted (in this case 3 feet deep) because they were uprooting his driveway. The Appellate Court disagreed and held that a homeowner's right to manage his own land must be "tempered by his duty to act reasonably."

Landowners should also note that the mere encroachment of tree roots onto your property does not give you the unfettered right to trim. To have the legal right to sever roots, the roots must be causing actual damage.

Does that sound better?
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 01:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Tree Root Property Damage

This information was provided yesterday by one of the California attorneys. The neighbor's "professional" tree stump grinder, whom she hired, did further damage to my property, and severing the roots did not kill them. I still have the ongoing root problem. She is responsible, but I know I will have to take legal action, which I am preparing to do.
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Old Jun 29th, 2009, 10:38 AM   #8
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Confused Re: Tree Root Property Damage

I am having a similar problem here in Texas. My neighbor not only cut back my trees, but killed them all along my fence line. She claims the UNDERGROUND roots are causing foundation problems. She can't produce evidence of this, but has now sued me.
Does anyone know the law for roots underground and any damage they might cause? I have court coming up.
Thank you!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2009, 12:12 PM   #9
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I am having a similar problem. I have been noticing cracks inside my home for 6 mths now. After the cable company came to dig a trench to bury the cable we had a really big rain. The rain washed away all the lose dirt and exposed an 8 in tree root coming from my neighbors tree (at our fence line) Once it was exposed, it was obvious where my problems are coming from. I fear quite a bit of damage. I have also been having backups in my kitchen sink and I am thinking the roots have invaded my pipes as well. Will my homeowners policy cover this? Are the neighbors liable for the damage to my foundation and pipes? I am in Texas. I am a little afraid to ask my insurance provider for fear they will reduce my policy.
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Old Sep 10th, 2009, 05:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: Tree Root Property Damage

Quote:
Originally Posted by TEXAS View Post
I am having a similar problem here in Texas. My neighbor not only cut back my trees, but killed them all along my fence line. She claims the UNDERGROUND roots are causing foundation problems. She can't produce evidence of this, but has now sued me.
Does anyone know the law for roots underground and any damage they might cause? I have court coming up.
Thank you!
If you were in California, you would probably have a good claim against your neighbor for killing your trees.

In Texas (where property rights are viewed as more absolute than in CA), she probably has the right to cut any roots and branches that encroach her property.

But you should check with a lawyer or search online for info.
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