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Can I Cut My Neighbor’s Wild Tree?

Can I Cut My Neighbor's Wild Tree?

Is your neighbor’s tree is so overgrown that it looks like it belongs in a forest rather than in a residential neighborhood? Are you tempted to grab an ax and go cherry-tree chopping? We understand the desire, but there are a few things you should know first. There are certain steps to be followed before taking a residential tree service matter into your own hands.

Many cities in the Portland area require a permit for cutting down trees. A good rule of thumb is that the larger the tree, the more likely it is a permit will be required. So keep that rule of thumb in mind any time you get the urge for a green thumb in tree-chopping.

If the tree does not require complete removal and simply needs a good trimming, you do have the right to trim the tree in certain instances. For example, if the tree is overgrown and its branches are infringing upon your property, you have the right to prune back the branches that are crossing over the property line. If you decide to trim the tree, there are a couple of points to keep in mind.

While you do not need a permit or your neighbor’s permission, it is a good idea to speak to your neighbor prior to doing the pruning. Many people are not familiar with how often a tree needs to be serviced. Your neighbor may have neglected the tree unknowingly and may be willing to contact a company to have the tree trimmed.

Some signs that a tree needs to be serviced or removed altogether include cracks, rotting and dead branches. If your neighbor’s tree is suffering from any of these symptoms and your neighbor is unwilling to do the trimming, you may want to proceed with the pruning yourself. However, you are not allowed to cross the property line without obtaining your neighbor’s consent.

If you decide to proceed in having the tree trimmed, you’ll do well to contact a company that specializes in residential tree service rather than doing it yourself. That’s because if you opt to do the pruning yourself and you kill the tree by over-trimming or do some other damage to your neighbor’s shady palm, you will have to bear the financial cost of replacing the brush. The cost will be exponentially greater than contracting a professional company to handle your residential tree service needs.

In fact, Oregon residents have to pay triple the cost of the damage done. That’s to say nothing of the physical damage an inexperienced tree pruner could do to oneself. It’s not as easy as it looks! If you lack knowledge and expertise in tree trimming, you could do serious harm, both to yourself and to the tree.

If you would prefer not to front the cost for the tree’s maintenance and you are unable to come to an agreement with your neighbor, there are some options to consider before channeling your inner lumberjack and grabbing an ax. If you and your neighbor are unable to come to terms, mediation could be a good option for you. Try contacting Portland’s Neighborhood Mediation Center to assist in the matter.

Also, you would do well to familiarize yourself with the laws pertaining to residential trees. For instance, it is your responsibility to protect yourself from your neighbor’s tree roots. If the neighbor’s tree runs amok and the roots begin to creep into your yard, you are responsible for any damage caused rather than your neighbor.

Also, a common cause of dispute among neighbors is tree ownership. The ownership of a tree is determined by where the trunk of the tree is located. If the trunk is on your property, it belongs to you. If the trunk is on your neighbor’s property, then your neighbor is the owner. If a trunk is located on the property line, then you are co-owners of the tree. In this instance, you will need to obtain the neighbor’s approval to trim or cut down the tree since the two of you are considered co-owners.

However, if your neighbor is sole owner of the tree and the tree has grown to such dangerous heights that it looks like it could pose a serious threat to your property, your neighbor could be at fault. The tree’s owner is responsible for keeping the tree in good health, so if the wild tree in question seems like it could topple over any second, you have some options.

If you have reason to believe your neighbor’s tree is not up to code, first try speaking with your neighbor directly to resolve the problem. If your neighbor fails to remove the tree on his or her own, you may have cause to consider the tree a nuisance. In this case, you could file a nuisance claim with the city and if the court rules in your favor, the neighbor will be ordered to remove the tree.

There are a couple numbers that handle residential tree service complaints. If your neighbor’s tree is on private property, contact the Bureau of Development Services nuisance complaint hotline. If the tree is a street tree instead, contact urban forestry at 503-823-TREE.

If you and your neighbor have come to an agreement and decide to cut the wild tree down, remember that it is best to contact a company that specializes in residential tree service. The cost of damaging a tree is far greater than the cost of hiring experts for your residential tree service needs.