Trees on a shared property line can be tricky to figure out who owns what and who is responsible.
A tree on a property line has shared ownership and responsibility for both neighbors depending on what is being done to the tree.
If you want to prune your side, it’s your responsibility, the same goes for your neighbor with trimming their side.
In the case of full tree removal, both parties are responsible and will need to share the cost.
Laws in most countries state that a landowner owns anything and everything that is on his property, above his property (to a reasonable height), and also, below the land (again to a reasonable depth).
A tree is basically shared between both parties, so both own and are responsible for it.
If you are looking to trim anything on your side of the fence, you should be fine to do so, but removing the tree will need consent from the parties.
Can I trim branches overhanging my side?
Whether it is a tree on the property line or a tree completely in your neighbor’s yard, you have the right to prune anything that is hanging over your side of the fence.
You also have the right to throw all branches back over their side of the fence. I suggest not doing this if you want to maintain a good relationship. If there is fruit on the tree, I suggest returning this to your neighbor as it is their property.
You will need to check local tree trimming laws to ensure it is legal to trim trees without a permit.
Do I need to tell my neighbour?
By law, you are not obliged to inform your neighbor in most cities and counties, but there are some places where they do mandate communication first to avoid disputes.
The law aside, I think it is always a good idea to communicate with your neighbor before you do anything.
It’s not worth falling out over some tree branches. Keep it civil and you can’t go wrong.
Who is responsible for tree removal on the property line?
We have covered tree trimming on the property line in length, but what about tree removal?
As the tree is on both properties, both neighbours are responsible for the cost to remove the tree.
I can imagine the tree is perfectly on the line each time, so you will have to discuss with your neighbour if you think it’s more their responsibility than theirs.
For example, if they planted the tree 20 years ago and it grew over your side, I think it’s fair to say it’s totally their responsibility. Again that is something you will need to discuss with them.
As far as the law goes, a shared tree on the property line is a shared responsibility for both neighbours.
Do I need a permit to trim or remove my tree?
The laws for tree removal will depend on the city you live in and the size and or species of the tree you are wishing to remove.
Some cities have an abundance of trees, while others are looking to increase their canopy cover, so the rules vary from needing a permit for everything to you can cut down any tree smaller than 25 feet without a permit.
This is what you will need to do:
1. Check your local cities tree removal laws
2. If your tree is exempt from needing a permit, you are safe to remove the tree.
3. If your tree is protected and needs a permit, you will need to apply.
Being successful in getting approval to remove a tree can be tricky. If it is a healthy tree, you will need a good excuse for why you are removing it.
I have written a whole article covering good and bad excuses for wanting a tree removed and how to guarantee success in city approval for tree removal.