Community Forestry National Conference Tree Law Case Studies
Boundary Line Trees: Maintaining a good relationship with a neighboring property owner can often be a challenging task under normal circumstances. However, add the existence of a tree located on the boundary line of the properties and situation can quickly become more complicated. Often, issue will arise when one property owner seeks to trim, cut, or altogether remove a boundary line tree without the consent or against the wishes of the other neighbor. With this in mind, it is important to understand the rights of both parties when such a situation arises. Encroachment: Another, major issue confronting landowners throughout the country is gaining a full understanding of one¿s rights with regards to trees that encroach from an adjoining property. Frequently, such encroachment comes in the form of limbs and/or roots that spread beyond the boundary line of the property upon which the trunk of the tree resides. Negligence: Having a tree located on your property can expose a person to possible claims of negligence from outside parties. Often, such litigation is the result of bodily harm and/or property damage. This is why it is important for those whom own, interact, or are accountable for the care of trees to fully understand what duties are expected of them by law, so, they cannot avoid being found negligent if a claim does arise. Utility Easements: An easement is a privilege to use the land of another. The holder of an easement has the right to use another tract of land for a special purpose (e.g., to lay pipe, public utility or power lies), however, the holder does not have a right to possess or enjoy that land. Obtaining easements has always been a necessity for utilities, since it is not realistic that they purchase all of the property necessary to provide for the transmission of their respective product. Right to Maintain Utilities: Quite often utilities are required to trim, cut, and remove trees that pose risks to the transmission of their respective product. However, since utilities rely on easements from private landowners, issues can often arise over whether a trimmed tree posed any harm or whether the easement itself provided the utility the right to trim a tree in the first place. Utility Liability: Because utilities often rely on easements to carry their inherently dangerous product across privately owned property, they often can be the focus of litigation when something goes wrong.
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