You ask, we investigate. Brunswick County resident Vickie Hobbs wants to know what her rights are regarding a tree on her neighbor's property. Vickie sent us pictures of the tree, which she described as sharply leaning, decayed, diseased, and could fall on her home at anytime.
In this hurricane-prone area, we thought there are probably many of you who have faced similar dilemmas. So we reached out to a local attorney for some insight.
Wilmington attorney Duke Lineberry says under the law, you can cut anything that extends over your property.
He said the owner of the lot where the tree is based should cover the cost of removal. If he refuses, you could file a nuisance claim at the courthouse, or contact the property owner telling them they have 30 days to address the issue before you have the tree removed yourself.
Technically, having the tree removed without the owner's permission would be trespassing, but our laws factor in necessity if your home is truly in jeopardy because of your neighbor's tree. It would work in your favor if you have a licensed professional document the tree is decaying and poses an eminent threat to your property.
Some cities and home owners associations require property owners maintain their trees. In Vickie's situation, the HOA finally did have the tree removed, but she said it took months of pestering to make that happen.
Lineberry said if a neighbor's tree does cause damage to your property, they can be held liable, particularly if you can show that you notified them of the hazard and they failed to act.
If you have a problem you'd like us to look into, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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