Trees are a lovely feature of most residential properties in Lynchburg. Not only do they provide shade, but they also add a design element to homes. Even though they grow slowly, trees can eventually turn into a nuisance. If your neighbor’s tree is hanging menacingly over your property line, your house may eventually sustain catastrophic damage.
You do not want to worry about whether a neighbor’s tree may ruin your home’s value. Fortunately, Virginia law affords homeowners a couple of ways to deal with trees that do not belong to them. Still, you must act reasonably to avoid exposing yourself to civil or criminal liability.
If your neighbor’s tree overhangs your property, you can remedy the problem without taking legal action. That is, you may trim the tree yourself. You must be careful when doing so, though. Specifically, you may only trim overhanging branches and may not cause lasting damage to the tree itself. You also must not trespass on your neighbor’s property.
Whether you trim your neighbor’s tree, the tree may cause actual damage to your home. If so, you may be able to receive compensation from your negligent neighbor. Note, however, that damages may not be a mere inconvenience. For example, you cannot sue your neighbor because of fallen leaves or acorns. On the contrary, you must have real damages, such as a broken fence, cracked foundation or crushed roof.
Virginia law prevents plaintiffs from recovering for their damages if they were partly to blame for them. Accordingly, if you know overhanging branches are a danger and do not trim them yourself, you may have trouble suing your neighbor successfully. Also, if a storm or non-visible rot caused branches from your neighbor’s tree to fall on your house, you may have trouble receiving compensation from your neighbor for your damages.
Even though trees make Lynchburg beautiful, they can be a nuisance. By understanding what to do about a neighbor’s threatening tree, you can better plan for both protecting the value of your property and asserting your legal rights.