Have you ever had a dispute with your neighbor regarding a dangerous, annoying, or unattractive tree? Regardless of who was right or wrong, these types of neighborly conflicts can be hell on Earth – after all, nobody wants to live next to an enemy!
Tree-lined neighborhoods are fantastic places to live, but the beauty and benefits of these mighty plants come with several important responsibilities – including knowledge of the law.
The more that you and your neighbors know about Georgia’s tree laws, the less likely you are to have an aggravating (and potentially expensive) legal conflict.
1. Continuing Trespass
Trees planted too close to property lines can create huge unforeseen problems as time goes by. Continuing trespass occurs when the trunk of a tree grows beyond the property line.
Many homeowners file charges of continuing trespass when the trunk of a neighbor’s tree causes damage to fences, structures, or interferes with potential building plans. Compromise is best, but tree removal may be necessary.
2. Overhanging Limbs
Does your neighbor’s tree have limbs that hang over your property? Homeowners are entitled to take full advantage of the “self-help” rule. This means that any homeowner is allowed to trim the portions of a tree that hang over into their own yard, but no more than that. This may also apply to tree roots on a case-by-case basis. As always, it is always best to get the permission of your neighbor even though the law may not require it.
3. Intentional or Accidental Damage
Property disputes can bring out the worst in people. This is where provisions for intentional or accidental tree damage come into play. Be careful when digging, spraying, or trimming around a neighbor’s tree or property. If you do happen to take advantage of the “self-help” rule, hire a professional tree trimming service to reduce the chances of a lawsuit.
Of course, Georgia tree laws evolve and change almost constantly – you can never assume that you’re safe from a lawsuit! Always contact a lawyer before taking any actions against a neighbor’s tree!