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Tree disputes: Who is liable?

As a residential property owner in Florida, you may discover that the condition of your neighbor’s property affects your own, or at least the way you are able to enjoy it. This may be particularly true when it comes to vegetation, and specifically trees. The University of Florida explains that there are state laws that address these issues to prevent residential property disputes.

If your neighbor has a tree with branches or roots that affect your property, he or she is not responsible for the inconvenience it causes you. However, you have the right to remove any parts of the tree that are on your property. Your neighbor is not responsible for the costs involved when the branches or roots that you remove from your property are healthy, though.

Dead trees or branches pose a hazard, and the law recognizes this and places responsibility for removing these on the neighbor who owns the property with the tree on it. So, if your neighbor’s dead tree damages your property in any way, he or she is liable for the costs. If a living tree or branch causes damage to your property, you must take care of the costs.

You do not have the right to cut down a tree on your neighbor’s property, but when it is on the boundary, matters may be different. Before you decide to get rid of it, you need to get your neighbor’s approval. The court has ruled in the past that a neighbor who suffers loss of comfort or value from the removal of a tree on the boundary may be compensated by the neighbor who has it cut down. Other conditions and legal precedents may apply in a situation, though, so this information should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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