Trees can add a lot of value to a property, but they are also often the cause of a lot of contention between neighbors. While it’s true a person can cut or trim branches that are hanging over the individual’s property, the person can’t do anything to damage or kill the tree. A homeowner whose neighbor harms a tree on his or her property should contact a real estate law lawyer in Chicago about obtaining compensation for the damage.
When a Person Becomes Liable
Many people feel their neighbors should be held liable for cutting or trimming the branches of a tree in a way that makes it unattractive. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The law states people own the vertical space on their property, so tree branches that dip into that space from a neighboring property are fair game for editing.
However, the person cannot do anything that harms the health of the tree. For instance, if the individual cuts the roots of the tree and that causes the tree to become diseased or die, then the person can be held liable for the cost of replacing the tree and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Challenges to Litigating the Case in Court
To prevail in court, the plaintiff in the case must prove that he or she exclusively owned the property in question. The law considers the tree to belong to both homeowners if it straddles the property line. The person who hurts or kills the tree might still be held liable, but the amount of damages that can be recovered may not be as much.
The tree must not have presented an immediate danger. If the tree was already dying and appeared as though it would topple over and hurt someone or damage property, the neighbor is allowed to take action to prevent that outcome.
Litigating this type of case is often straightforward, but sometimes the process can be complicated by property line matters and the involvement of insurance companies. It’s essential to consult with a real estate law lawyer in Chicago office such as Starr, Bejgiert, Zink & Rowells for assistance with developing a legal strategy to obtain a positive outcome in this type of case.