A boundary line or property line is a perimeter of a parcel of land separating it from adjacent parcels. Under the agreed boundary doctrine, if there is uncertainty regarding an actual boundary line, the parties may agree to one. Most boundary disputes involve backyard fences or encroachments by landscaping. Other neighbor disputes deal with trees, views or incompatible uses of the property (including pets, noise and illegal activity).
Owners should not allow trees and other landscaping to intrude onto the land of adjoining land owners. Falling leaves, sap and more may be difficult to clean out of gutters, but would not constitute an encroachment per se. Rather, most of the problems involving trees are about overhanding branches, intrusive roots and trees that block views.
A hazard tree is an unstable or decaying tree that poses a danger to houses, sidewalks driveways and more. An owner is responsible only if they are negligent in maintaining such tree on their property. For example, if the tree was maintained and falls onto another's property, the owner is not responsible. If however, the tree was not maintained and fell over onto a neighbors property, the owner is liable.
In Booska v. Patel, 24 Cal.App.4th (1994), Patel incorrectly believed that he had the right to sever the roots of his neighbor's encroaching tree. Booska owned adjacent property and the roots of the tree encroached onto Patel's property. Patel excavated and severed the roots causing the tree to become unsafe. As a result Booska cut down the tree and filed action against Patel. The court held on appeal that a neighbor must act reasonably when pruning encroaching roots and branches and Patel was not at liberty to take such severe actions.
This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.