Tree tops cover many farms and ranches across Texas. Although these trees can provide fresh air and a shady spot to picnic, they can also be problematic for property owners - especially when tree roots and branches infringe upon a neighbor's land.
Whether you are having tree disagreements with a neighbor or are trying to prevent them from happening, the following information on Texas tree-related property laws can help.
Maintaining your tree
Trees should be maintained in a manner that keeps from damaging a neighbor's property. If you are removing branches or an entire tree, take precautions to ensure the process does not risk damaging a neighbor's window, playset, roofing or other personal property.
Sharing a tree with a neighbor
Trees located on a boundary line are considered joint property. That means a neighbor cannot independently decide to remove the tree without first gaining permission from the resident whose property also shares the tree.
If the branches or roots of a neighbor's tree have crept over to your property, you have a right to prune the tree back to the property line. However, if you hurt the neighbor's tree, you may be found liable for costly damages.
Potential damages costs for trees
Costs for damaging a neighbor's tree could include:
- The amount paid for the tree or what it would cost to replace the tree
- Punitive damages (if the defendant is found to have been willfully trespassing)
- Attorney fees
Under Texas property laws, if a tree falls from natural causes (lightning, storms, water) the property owner of the place where a tree has fallen is responsible for removing the tree. This includes situations in which a tree that was rooted in a neighbor's yard has fallen down onto another neighbor's property. The neighbor who originally owned the tree would not be legally liable for removing the tree.
However, a neighbor would be liable for damages if his or her tree or branches fell due to negligence. For example, if the neighbor knew that his or her tree was decaying, but chose not to tend to the problem, he or she would be liable for resulting damages.
Trees can be extremely costly to replace or remove. If you have further questions concerning property line laws, contact an attorney for advice.