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Neighbours Tree Damaging House

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  • Jul 6th, 2020 2:15 pm
[OP]
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Oct 4, 2006
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Burlington

Neighbours Tree Damaging House

Hey folks had some questions I can't seem to easily find the answer to I the bylaw pages.

My neighbour has a massive tree in their backyard that quite significantly overhangs my yard and gets mixed up in my trees. This year unfortunately the tree has grown so far over that it's rubbing on the side of the house and has bent back some of the roof flashing.

There is also a substantial branch that broke last year and has been half hanging down resting on my shed. Still attached but has like a 90degree break and mostly dead.

Who's job is it to actually manage the tree? I'm tempted to just buy a pole saw ladder up and trim back a ton but given how high the branches are I'm also a bit concerned for the safety side. This tree is tall, absolutely towers over our houses and those branches would be 2+ stories high.
16 replies
Deal Addict
Jan 23, 2002
4267 posts
296 upvotes
Hamilton
I am pretty sure it is your responsibility. It may be his tree, but everything that grows on your side is your problem. While I have seen neighbours take out trees with a chain and a pick up, I have also seen the tree win. This branches are heavy and you can seriously harm yourself and/or your property. You should call a tree company to trim back your property line. Maybe insurance will cover your siding.

Edit -- when my neighbour's tree was damaging my fence and increasingly leaning toward my house I went to talk to him about it. He had it cut down. You should also talk to you neighbour and express your concerns about the future health of the tree and your concern about the risk to your home. He may not want to hear it, but I would document the conversation.
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
22774 posts
21607 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
synaptech wrote: I am pretty sure it is your responsibility. It may be his tree, but everything that grows on your side is your problem. While I have seen neighbours take out trees with a chain and a pick up, I have also seen the tree win. This branches are heavy and you can seriously harm yourself and/or your property. You should call a tree company to trim back your property line. Maybe insurance will cover your siding.

Edit -- when my neighbour's tree was damaging my fence and increasingly leaning toward my house I went to talk to him about it. He had it cut down. You should also talk to you neighbour and express your concerns about the future health of the tree and your concern about the risk to your home. He may not want to hear it, but I would document the conversation.
Good post

I would also document the whole process

Take lots of photos now ... that show the condition of that broken branch over your shed, as well as the one that’s rubbing your house / damaging siding.

Then ... call your Insurance Co for info / guidance
(Broken tree / wind damage etc might = some compensation to get the spot on your house fixed )

After you hear back on that ... approach the neighbour to discuss YOUR POSITION on the tree, and explain what each other’s rights & obligations are.

The Insurance Co will have no doubt filled you in on all that

Cuz, I wouldn’t just start cutting down HIS TREE ... even tho it overhangs, even damages your property without first approaching him as a “good neighbour” to discuss this in a civil & reasonable manner.

Either you guys will agree on a plan going forward ... or you won’t.

I would follow up that convo with some sort of confirmation (email / letter) that states what you guys have agreed upon ... lol, or not agreed upon

BEFORE you actually take any action to fix the issue on your side of the fence

NOTE - You prob want to hire a Tree Service to get it done right. And also to not inflict any more damage to your property (or worse his )

You’ll need all this documentation / paper trail ... IF things don’t go well in the end zone

Hopefully he’s not a dick ... and you guys can agree upfront how to manage the tree situation so it’s a good solution for both of you. Lucky for me, we’ve pretty much always lived with good neighbours (in several houses now), and haven’t ever had major issues like fences, trees, sheds & structures, major noise etc

Good neighbours are worth their weight in gold ... but it’s a relationship that must be nurtured thru mutual respect ... a helping hand, and hopefully a touch of friendship

Keep us posted as to how it turns out
[OP]
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Oct 4, 2006
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Burlington
Will see how things go. The house next door is a rental with great tenants but ultimately falls to the landlord so not as easy as knocking on their door :-(

Had a chat with them and they're going to reach out for me and give him my number.

Never had to bring a team in to trim down a tree. Hopefully not too expensive. Wife on mat leave and some expensive car repair coming up makes the wallet hurt!
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
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Toronto
Figure $3000 or so to remove a large tree - at least. I had a very large elm taken out.
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Feb 4, 2010
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I would definitely talk to the neighbour first too. Points hubby gave some good advice
torontotim wrote: Figure $3000 or so to remove a large tree - at least. I had a very large elm taken out.
It would have been good if he posted a picture but I'm thinking the tree probably hasn't been pruned in ages and that's likely the problem as most people don't do this. Would be surprised if it actually has to be removed but if it does then it is not OP's responsibility, it's the neighbor's.
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
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Toronto
Ah - I misread the prior post about 'trimming' a tree.

I'm sure you enjoy the tree's shade - bring in an arborist and have it maintained, at least the bit on your side or when you get in touch with the owner offer to pay 1/3 the cost and you'll find the arborist.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 21, 2018
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Vancouver
All good advice in this thread.

There is some slight variation between jurisdictions, but generally it is your responsibility to handle any overgrowth on your side of the property line, or any damages that occur from falling branches or trees on your side of the property line, regardless of where the tree is rooted. However it is good policy to discuss it with the neighbour, and in some cases you may benefit from an agreement to share costs on one pruning job, or at least get the neighbour to do more frequent pruning on their side before it becomes your problem. Absentee landlords can be more difficult to deal with though.

If you do any aggressive pruning yourself, keep in mind that there may be local city bylaws about damaging older trees. If there were a complaint, it could result in a hefty fine. Complaints could come from unexpected sources, like another neighbour to the back who is annoyed that after trimming the branches, your windows now have a clear view of their deck where they were accustomed to sunbathe in the nude.
[OP]
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Oct 4, 2006
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Burlington
torontotim wrote: Ah - I misread the prior post about 'trimming' a tree.

I'm sure you enjoy the tree's shade - bring in an arborist and have it maintained, at least the bit on your side or when you get in touch with the owner offer to pay 1/3 the cost and you'll find the arborist.
I got lots of shade, have three good sized trees of my own. Thankfully they're growing vertically not diagonally like this problem tree lol.

I'll get some pictures in a bit once I can out the kiddo down for a nap.
[OP]
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Oct 4, 2006
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Took a quick couple shots outside. Please ignore the weird formatting. No matter how I space the pictures/text it shows well in preview but not when posted lol

First one is where the branch has mostly snapped.
MVIMG_20200704_130004.jpg
Just overlapping into my trees.
IMG_20200704_130026.jpg
Basically the fence line is where the photo ends on the right. Notice when looking seems some off colored branches in there too I never noticed.
IMG_20200704_130036.jpg
Fair straightforward it over hangs my house and droops as far down as my shed roof.
IMG_20200704_130047.jpg
Can see it touching and going over the house. A couple panels from the roof bent and the small piece bent back away from the roof near the corner
IMG_20200704_130109.jpg
How low that hangs, basically resting on the shed. The lower branch appears dead as well.
IMG_20200704_130117.jpg
Deal Fanatic
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Oct 12, 2007
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Ottawa
synaptech wrote: I am pretty sure it is your responsibility. It may be his tree, but everything that grows on your side is your problem. While I have seen neighbours take out trees with a chain and a pick up, I have also seen the tree win. This branches are heavy and you can seriously harm yourself and/or your property. You should call a tree company to trim back your property line. Maybe insurance will cover your siding.

Edit -- when my neighbour's tree was damaging my fence and increasingly leaning toward my house I went to talk to him about it. He had it cut down. You should also talk to you neighbour and express your concerns about the future health of the tree and your concern about the risk to your home. He may not want to hear it, but I would document the conversation.
Perfect response, OP - this what you should do. If you neighbour is reluctant, you can cut the tree back to your property line.

Related question: do any of your trees have branches overhanging your neighbour's property?
Deal Addict
Jan 23, 2002
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Hamilton
DarkMasterMX wrote:
IMG_20200704_130047.jpg

Can see it touching and going over the house. A couple panels from the roof bent and the small piece bent back away from the roof near the corner

IMG_20200704_130109.jpg

How low that hangs, basically resting on the shed. The lower branch appears dead as well.

IMG_20200704_130117.jpg
If siding is your only problem I would consider yourself lucky. In a serious rain/wind/snow/ice storm I can see your roof shingles, eaves, and soffit all taking damage. Your eaves are probably plugged too from the leaves. Talk with your neighbour, but start getting some arborist quotes asap.
[OP]
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Oct 4, 2006
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CaptSmethwick wrote: Perfect response, OP - this what you should do. If you neighbour is reluctant, you can cut the tree back to your property line.

Related question: do any of your trees have branches overhanging your neighbour's property?
None of my tree branches go over into their yard. I think one tree slightly goes over the fence of my rear neighbour.

I try to trim back the tree and low branches every year.
[OP]
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Oct 4, 2006
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Burlington
synaptech wrote: If siding is your only problem I would consider yourself lucky. In a serious rain/wind/snow/ice storm I can see your roof shingles, eaves, and soffit all taking damage. Your eaves are probably plugged too from the leaves. Talk with your neighbour, but start getting some arborist quotes asap.
I can't really see the shingles up there but I was concerned with that as well. We repainted the rooms and one of the closet spaces near that corner seemed a bit humid. Drywall putty in the corner wasn't drying after several days so it's possible there's something going on. Between the few wind storms in the last year or so I do have a few shingles starting to show wear but nothing bad. Likely a next year job to replace.
Sr. Member
Aug 29, 2019
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torontotim wrote: Figure $3000 or so to remove a large tree - at least. I had a very large elm taken out.
Why would you want to remove it? Just trim the offending branches and let it be. The tree isn't an offending species that easily falls over.
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Aug 29, 2019
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DarkMasterMX wrote: I'm tempted to just buy a pole saw ladder up and trim back a ton but given how high the branches are I'm also a bit concerned for the safety side. This tree is tall, absolutely towers over our houses and those branches would be 2+ stories high.
This tree has extremely dense and heavy wood. The dead branches might be ok to go at with a pole saw but the live branches will be challenging.

The good news is that it's heavy and dense and isn't the type of tree to fall over in a storm. Technically, it wouldn't drop limbs either except that squirrels really like chewing on the wood because it has a sweet sap. You can see that some of the branches are missing bark. Those too will die soon if they aren't dead already. Those should be pruned out as well. You should probably hire somebody to this based on the height, spread, proximity to houses and species of the tree. Trying to chop the branches up yourself for disposal or compost wont be easy either, it would be worth paying the arborist to grind those up.
Sr. Member
Aug 29, 2019
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hierophant wrote: I would definitely talk to the neighbour first too. Points hubby gave some good advice


It would have been good if he posted a picture but I'm thinking the tree probably hasn't been pruned in ages and that's likely the problem as most people don't do this. Would be surprised if it actually has to be removed but if it does then it is not OP's responsibility, it's the neighbor's.
The problem is that people who like big shade trees but have tiny lots, plant them too closely to their neighbours house and fence. Slightly Frowning Face

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