How to Handle a Fight With Your Neighbour About Overgrown Trees

By: albertaarb - June 8, 2016

neighbours arguing over trees

Maybe the low-hanging branches on your next-door-neighbour's beloved oak are blocking your gate. Or perhaps your garden needs sun it can't get because your neighbour's maple tree is creating too much shade on your side of the fence. Regardless, your neighbour's overgrown tree branches are in your way, and you need this to change. Here's how to approach the situation so that everyone's needs are respected.

This is Between the Two of You

According to Toronto.ca, "The City of Toronto does not regulate the trimming of trees on private property." You may be able to get Urban Forestry to investigate if a dead or dying tree or dead branches are involved that could be hazardous, but otherwise you're probably on your own.

Know the Rules of Engagement

Toronto.ca outlines your rights and those of your neighbour:

  1. You cannot trespass onto your neighbour's property.
  2. You cannot damage your neighbour's property (in this case a tree).
  3. You have the right to maintain your property in a safe condition. Essentially, you can't just go and chop your neighbour's tree to bits, even if it's driving you crazy (you probably don't want to do this yourself anyway, as pruning a tree safely requires specialized knowledge and the right equipment). Talk to your neighbour before doing anything to their tree if you want to avoid potential legal problems.

Be Willing to Compromise

If you want to keep things civil, meet your neighbour halfway. The Globe and Mail recommends against letting things get out of hand. Try to resolve things before lawyers have to get involved (seeking legal counsel may seem extreme, but it isn't unheard of).

Think With Your Heart, Not Just Your Head

While you may think the situation is simple--annoying branch? Remove it!--you need to remember that trees are living things, and your neighbour may have a long-standing and nostalgic relationship with the one in their yard. Removing too large of a branch or too many branches could also harm the tree, which wouldn't be fair to your neighbour or the tree itself.

Next Step: Find an Arborist

Once you've reached a solution you can both live with, you may need to find someone to handle your tree-trimming project. We're here to help with pruning to ensure that both you and the tree are safe. At Alberta Arborists, we have helped countless people get rid of branches and trees safely and efficiently, and we can help you, too. Our highly experienced arborists are trained to remove trees from any location and can ensure no damage is done to your property. Click here to contact us or call the number at the top of the page for a free, no-obligation estimate of your job.  

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