Do You Know Who Should Pay for Trees on the Property Line?

June 12, 2017

Let’s see if this sounds familiar. Your neighbor has a tree hinging on your property. In fact, the canopy extends well beyond the property line and even into your yard. While you and your neighbor may be cordial, you aren’t completely sure how to handle the situation. All you really know is that you’re tired of dealing with leaves and debris from a tree that isn’t yours. In this blog post, we will explain how to navigate this process.

Talk to your neighbor about it

You may be concerned that this will be an awkward conversation, which it very well might be. That said, it’s important to speak with your neighbor now before the tree creeps further and further into your yard. Keep in mind that you have no legal obligation to share in part of the cost of the tree trimming. However, if your neighbor still won’t budge, there are still options.

This article from The Times Herald reaffirms that you own your property to the property line. With that said, you generally have the right to trim any neighbor’s trees or bushes right up to that line. Here’s where things can get tricky, though. Because homeowners aren’t professionals, taking the tree trimming task into their own hands can result in irreparable harm to the tree. You may then be liable to your neighbor if you cause such harm to the tree.

You may be wondering what irreparable harm entails. Generally speaking, it’s something that negatively impacts the long-term health of the tree. An example would be trimming your tree to the point that it’s shocked to death. By law, a tree is considered to be jointly owned by you and your neighbor if it’s directly on the property line. Therefore, any alterations to the tree usually require the consent of both parties. It might seem silly, but if neither agrees on a solution, the conflict can wind up being decided by a judge.

When weather becomes a factor

Especially in Chicago, weather-damaged trees are fairly common following a severe storm. But what happens if wind and lightning strikes become the culprit of downed trees? Let’s take it a step further and say that a tree fell toward your neighbor, took out a fence near the property line, and damaged your neighbor’s roof. Even though only a few feet of this tree landed on your property, what’s the step you should take and which of you is responsible? Turning again to the referenced article, you are not responsible for the damage caused to your neighbor’s property unless you are negligent in some fashion. Negligence, in this case, would be if your tree had been rotting for years but you failed to take the appropriate actions in resolving the issue.

Paying for the damage

Let’s get to the heart of the matter. In cases where trees push right up to the property line, each homeowner is responsible for repairs and cleanup of their own property. Should you find yourself in this situation, it’s a good idea to contact your homeowners’ insurance carrier and work with their adjuster. At that point, a tree trimming service would be hired to cut and remove all debris on your property up to the property line. On the other side, your neighbors would be forced to manage their own cleanup strategy. Similar to what you did, they would need to their homeowners’ insurance carrier and likely bring in a tree company.

Dealing with the insurance companies

Remember that you aren’t responsible for repairs of your neighbor’s property, even if it was your tree. Opposing insurance companies may go so far as to send threatening letters or warn against legal action, demanding you reimburse them for costs of your neighbor’s cleanup. While you feel inclined to do so, absolutely do not pay them. You may even consider writing a letter in response explaining that for acts of God, each homeowner is responsible for the upkeep of their property and nobody else’s. Again, unless negligence was a factor, you are not legally responsible for their repairs.


Since 1989, Pro Tree Service’s commitment has remained the same: to provide professional tree care services at an affordable price. You don’t have to worry about quality, as we are a fully licensed, insured, and bonded tree service. With our team, there’s never any gimmicks, fees, hor hidden services. Unlike other companies in the area, we are fully transparent and effectively communicate with homeowners throughout the project.

There’s no doubt that tree pruning and trimming can be daunting tasks. That’s why it’s so important to leave the work in the hands of a skilled professional. For nearly three decades, we’ve come across just about every situation with trees, including those where a tree comes directly in contact with the property line. Rather than putting yourself in a case where you’re liable for damages you caused in trimming a tree on your own, trust the experts at Pro Tree Service

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