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Can you trim a neighbor's tree?

Your neighbor has an old tree with huge branches hanging out into your yard. Your children play in that yard all the time. You're worried that one of those branches is going to break off and injure someone.

However, your neighbor loves that old tree and refuses to have it removed, no matter how dangerous it looks. You ask them to trim it, at least, but they refuse to do the work or pay someone to do it. What options do you have?

If the tree really encroaches on your property, you can trim it. Just be careful not to cross the property line. That's as far as your rights extend.

For instance, if the branch appears dead all the way back to the trunk, do not cut it off at the trunk. Just find the property line and cut off the end of the branch at that line. This isn't the way you'd normally trim a tree, it's true. But you cannot damage the portion of the tree on their property in any way. You definitely cannot have the entire tree removed.

It's also important that you try not to harm the tree or do more damage than necessary. Just cut back the portion that extends onto your land and be done with it. You do have a right to safety, but do not try to go further in order to spite your neighbor or for any other reason.

Naturally, these cases can get contentious. Your neighbor still may feel angry because of your actions. Be sure you are well aware of your legal rights.

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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
7331 196th Street, SW
P.O. Box 1067
Lynnwood, WA 98046

Phone: 425-329-7857
Phone: 425-776-3191
Fax: 425-775-0406
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