The Problem with Trees and Neighbours

The Problem with Trees and Neighbours

In Belleville, neighbourhoods are small, often making disputes and disagreements between neighbours a normal occurrence. In cities, suburbs, and even smaller towns, tree trimming and noise can create problems that need to be resolved.

Perhaps you’re thinking of trimming your neighbour’s overhanging tree, or there are overgrown branches blocking your sun. Maybe your neighbour’s tree is damaging your fence or roof, or their roots are creeping under your fence.

What if my neighbour’s trees are overhanging my property?

The first thing to know is that you do have the right to prune parts of a tree on or overhanging your own property, as long as it will not damage or kill the tree to do so. Before doing any work on trees in your yard, you should talk with your neighbour first to see if there are issues that need to be resolved.

If the tree that is affecting your property belongs to the city, you can contact the City Hall to discuss the issue. More information is available on the City of Belleville website.

Who is Responsible for Cutting Overhanging Tree Branches?

You should ask who owns this tree first. If you want to be a good neighbour, you need to know the correct property line. It is not uncommon for fences or commonly accepted property lines to be different than the actual legal property line. Trees with trunks that cross property lines are called “boundary trees”. You and your neighbour are considered to be joint owners of the tree.

When trees pose safety issues, it gets more complicated. Trees that are just starting to have some branches growing out that are causing problems, like limbs that are breaking off, are easier to deal with than the ones that are completely leaning and need to come down.

Tree on property line

You can trim your branch back to the property line, or, if you’re allowed to prune trees on your neighbour’s property, you can prune the tree at a more appropriate location. Cutting a branch at the wrong location can compromise the health of the tree, or even kill it.

Larger trees that cross multiple properties are much more difficult to deal with and might have significant legal, liability, and ultimate ownership or responsibility issues with regards to the law, liability and ultimate ownership or responsibility.

All homeowners in Belleville are required to maintain their trees to reasonable safety standards. If you think a neighbour’s tree is a safety risk, you should first try to resolve the problem amicably.

What if your Neighbours’ Trees are Blocking Sunlight?

The problem with trees and neighbours that is most common is when your neighbour’s trees are blocking sunlight from your view. Whether it’s from your windows or a shady back deck, this may be a tree trimming job you’re responsible for paying for.

If your neighbour’s trees are blocking light from your garden, then it can be pretty irritating for those who enjoy spending time in their garden. Your neighbour is under no obligation to prune or trim your tree for you.

In order to create a natural-looking yard you might have to speak with your neighbour about pruning their trees or sharing the costs of trimming and pruning them. Whether or not they’re interested in having their tree pruned, you’ll have to respect their wishes and the property line.

What if Your Neighbours’ Tree is Damaging Property

If your neighbour’s tree is causing damage or is a hazard, your neighbour has an obligation to do something about the problem. Dying trees include broken branches, dying branches, and dead trees.

Property owners are responsible for maintaining their homes and properties to a reasonable degree of safety, and when they don’t they can face fines under municipal by-laws, be compelled to repair or replace their properties, and in extreme cases be charged criminally.

Neighbour’s Tree Damaging My Property

If your neighbour’s tree has caused damage or fallen on your property, you should first contact your neighbour to document the damage for insurance purposes. Neighbours are supposed to remove hazardous objects and hazards on their properties, so if you think that your neighbour hasn’t taken care of their property, you may want to call the municipal by-law office. Document what happened, stay calm, and keep in mind that you’ll incur additional costs if you need to file an insurance claim.

Tree Roots

Tree roots are difficult problems. Cutting a tree root can damage the health and structural integrity of the tree. Minor problems, such as a root growing near the side of a yard, or in another outdoor location, may be best to leave.

You do have the right to remove some roots from your trees. However, unlike with pruning, this is far more likely to cause serious problems. You’re better off just leaving the root alone—it’s not harmful. You also don’t want to kill it, because it helps your tree grow.

If you have a bigger root problem, such as roots growing into your plumbing or foundation, you’ll want to call Belleville Tree Service to assess the issue. We can assess the roots, use the correct tools to dig them out and create a plan to correct the problem. When the roots of a tree are not your own, it’s important to involve the owner of the tree to ensure a smooth resolution to the problem.

When to Call Belleville Tree Service

Neighbour disputes over trees are often heated, and it’s best to involve a professional who will be able to remain objective. A qualified tree care professional from Belleville Tree Service can identify the cause of a tree’s health problems and suggest treatments that meet your needs as well as the tree’s needs.

Arborists are also trained to ensure damage is prevented to trees or property near them, and reputable companies will carry liability insurance to cover the work they undertake.

Avoid arguments with a neighbour over a tree by resolving the issue before it begins. Having one of our arborists inspect your tree properly before removing it is a good idea, since he or she will be able to make sure that the work is done without damaging your tree or the property. Contact Belleville Tree Service today if you are having a problem related to your neighbour’s trees.