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Neighbor cut my tree roots.

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  • Jan 25th, 2009 1:32 am
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Deal Addict
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Jan 22, 2006
1275 posts
5 upvotes

Neighbor cut my tree roots.

I have a maple tree (~ 24" around) around 3 feet from my property line. This week I noticed the tree was starting to lean. This disturbed me as if it were to fall, it will do some considerable damage to some landscaping in my yard.

I ventured to look on the neighbors side and much to my surprise I found that he cut the roots that were on his property. By the way, his house is for sale.

In this situation do I have any recourse ?

I know he's within his right to cut roots on his property, but is he able to do so if it kills the tree ?
26 replies
Deal Addict
Mar 21, 2006
4151 posts
268 upvotes
Burlington, Ontario
Call Town of Oakville and ask what the by-law is.
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Member
Jul 31, 2005
378 posts
47 upvotes
Wow, How BOLD, hopefully if it does fall it lands on his property and ruins it
Deal Addict
Apr 15, 2004
1580 posts
141 upvotes
Toronto
yup i agree it sucks but even if you persue this furthur what do you expect to get out of this ? i mean im pretty sure their wont be any monetory profit ....
Deal Addict
Sep 11, 2006
1918 posts
9 upvotes
KELOWNA
thesk8man wrote:
Jul 26th, 2008 10:37 pm
yup i agree it sucks but even if you persue this furthur what do you expect to get out of this ? i mean im pretty sure their wont be any monetory profit ....
There could be some consequences worth some money there depending on the local laws about trees. It might take some looking into how things are done locally but if there are bylaws protecting trees a person could be subject to pay. I know the city trees where I live are worth up to $10,000 each (as based on their type and circumference) so it might be the same type of calculation for a private tree depending on the circumstances.
Deal Fanatic
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Apr 24, 2006
9866 posts
577 upvotes
Calgary
Also what if the tree falls because of this, onto his house or damaging property? IMHO trees can be very scary, especially when they can get up to 40 feet in the air, and if it falls onto your house, well it wont be pretty for whose is inside. Worst case scenario yes, but I wouldn't want to deal with it.
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Deal Expert
Oct 20, 2001
18709 posts
1157 upvotes
Oakville doesn't currently have a tree by-law (although some people want one), and the Halton region tree by-law probably wouldn't apply to this situation. So it looks like it may be just an issue that you'll have to work out yourself with the neighbor, because the municipal governments don't control it.
These folks have taken over RFD, so I'm done here.

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Deal Addict
Jan 23, 2002
4014 posts
31 upvotes
Just curious, was the cutting done to protect his property or unclog pipes? While I can understand the frustration, I also can see the damage that tree roots will cause if left unchecked.

edit -- even if they were causing problems he should have addressed that to you.
Deal Addict
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Nov 9, 2003
1088 posts
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Grimsby
Cutting the roots on one side is hardly likely to kill a tree. The 'leaning' is another issue of course.

We have a tree behind my next door neighbour but right in the corner and I cut those roots all the time. This is one of those very invasive type plants and I do not need forest in my yard. The roots come through and send up shoots if I do not keep it at bay.
Sr. Member
May 24, 2003
929 posts
42 upvotes
Whoever planted it 3 feet from the property line is a dumbass. Just cut it down, plant a new one further on your property (if you really want a tree), and be done with this issue. Nothing worse than people who plant trees so close to the property line that you know it will invade your neighbours property.
[OP]
Deal Addict
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Jan 22, 2006
1275 posts
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Sorry in no particular order ... great responses though !
synaptech wrote:
Jul 26th, 2008 11:36 pm
Just curious, was the cutting done to protect his property or unclog pipes? While I can understand the frustration, I also can see the damage that tree roots will cause if left unchecked.

edit -- even if they were causing problems he should have addressed that to you.
Maple trees usually run surface roots, unfortunately while they posed no structural risk, my neighbor thought (I guess) that it would be unsightly and be a detriment to selling his property.

When I moved in ~ 3 years ago, he did mention that 'we'll" need to do something about the maple roots, at which I said I'd buy some top soil and grass to cover them up. Since then not a word.
Whoever planted it 3 feet from the property line is a dumbass. Just cut it down, plant a new one further on your property (if you really want a tree), and be done with this issue.
Well with more than 11 mature trees (with a pool), I wouldn't sweat losing a tree, but this tree was providing some privacy from the neighbor in question. Replacing it will run into some big $$
yup i agree it sucks but even if you persue this furthur what do you expect to get out of this ? i mean im pretty sure their wont be any monetory profit ....
Well how about the cost of an arborist or a new tree.
Oakville doesn't currently have a tree by-law (although some people want one), and the Halton region tree by-law probably wouldn't apply to this situation. So it looks like it may be just an issue that you'll have to work out yourself with the neighbor, because the municipal governments don't control it.
You're right but that doesn't supercede a neighbor from advising me or owning up to their actions and doing the right thing.

###### UPDATE ######

Saw my neighbor today and asked him point blank if he cut the roots to which he answered "NO". I then ventured to show him the missing roots on his property, he still maintains his innocence ... I'm quickly losing my patience, good neighbor will turn into a militent one soon.
Deal Addict
Sep 11, 2006
1918 posts
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KELOWNA
patriot wrote:
Jul 27th, 2008 9:04 pm
When I moved in ~ 3 years ago, he did mention that 'we'll" need to do something about the maple roots, at which I said I'd buy some top soil and grass to cover them up. Since then not a word.
This could put a new spin on this. Just wondering, did you ever buy that top soil and cover those roots? If not maybe he isn't too impressed and was tired of waiting for you to do as promised?

It's your tree, you may want to get an arborist in to find out if it is okay or not. I don't see your neighbour actually owing you any excuse if he's been waiting 3 years for you to fix the problem (if you haven't). The thing is, unless that tree is protected by your municipality he has the right to do what he wants to his yard and if he's waited 3 years for something to happen I'm not sure you can fault him.
[OP]
Deal Addict
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Jan 22, 2006
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Dustbunny wrote:
Jul 27th, 2008 10:43 pm
This could put a new spin on this. Just wondering, did you ever buy that top soil and cover those roots? If not maybe he isn't too impressed and was tired of waiting for you to do as promised?

It's your tree, you may want to get an arborist in to find out if it is okay or not. I don't see your neighbour actually owing you any excuse if he's been waiting 3 years for you to fix the problem (if you haven't). The thing is, unless that tree is protected by your municipality he has the right to do what he wants to his yard and if he's waited 3 years for something to happen I'm not sure you can fault him.
You maybe right but I doubt it, like I said I've been a good neighbor over the years (cutting grass and helping him on some maintenance), so it's not as if I don't talk to him and his wife. The property isn't his principle residence and he uses it for rental income. So as I remember the conversation (3 years ago), it was a solution I proposed and it was up to him as to whether he wanted to do it or not (as it would've incurred some regrading on the side of his house).

Like I've said, clandestine root cutting and then the nerve to denying the actions to my face amounts to being a dick in my books.

I've put a call into the city arborist (they've been helpful in the past), if I get no response I'll persue a private one.
Deal Addict
Jan 4, 2007
1338 posts
12 upvotes
Is the tree on your property or the city portion of it?
Deal Guru
Aug 2, 2001
12762 posts
3655 upvotes
If you feel your maple tree is not safe anymore (since it may fall down) you should strongly consider removing it. You're aware of the hazard that exists on your property so you can't plead ignorance, and since it's in your care you will be liable for it's damage.


That being said, if you feel that the neighbour killed your tree/caused the issue by removing roots you can take him to small claims court and state your case. At this point you would be able to recovery the cost of removing the tree and getting a new one, provided the judges sees things your way.
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