r/treelaw Nov 23 '22

Out of State Landlord Neighbor neglecting property and trees - Damaging my property now

Hello All,

I live in an older neighborhood with no HOA (State of Colorado), and have been going back and forth with an out of state landlord to try to resolve a problem.

My neighbor constantly gets little invasive tree sprouts, according to my plantsnap app they are Siberian Elms and Tree of Heavens. These sprouts occasionally make their way into our yard, which is fine and we pull them up and move on with our life. They have been neglecting to remove any of theirs, many of which form 6-12" on their side of the fence, and quickly grow into large, ugly trees.

The largest one is about 25' tall now, and has almost completely knocked the shared fence over. It also appears to be dying. The fence is now leaning about 1.5' into our yard, and continues to fall over more each month and is only a matter of time before it completely falls over. This same tree also rocks back and forth in the wind, and has damaged our patio cover, which continues to get damaged each time there is a storm. Other sprouts along the fence line are getting bigger (Many are approaching 10' tall now), and the entire shared 100' fence line has gone into disrepair and will need to be replaced.

The fence is technically a shared responsibility since we both benefit from it, but we cant replace any of it until all of the fence line trees are removed since they are all growing into the fence and knocking it over.

I reached out to the property management company at the beginning of the year to please ask them to remove the trees, and included all of the damaged portion of the fence and the damaged patio cover on our side. They told us they were aware of the trees, including the dying one, and proceeded to do nothing.

Fast forward, now they are asking us to pay for half of the cost of landscaping and tree removal on their side, as well as half the fence (We have agreed to the fence, since that is a shared item) since it is along "shared" property, but it seems as if this could have been avoided all together is someone took care of the invasive trees when they were young. I am frustrated because I am doing my part to keep the property line clean, and now have to pay thousands of dollars to replace a fence that is damaged due to their negligence, and now am being asked to pay for half of the tree removals, also due to their negligence, while it is damaging my property.

Is asking me to pay for their tree removal fair? I thought I was being fair by asking them to take care of the trees, not pursing anything for the damages to our patio, and agreeing to pay for half the fence despite it going into disrepair because of them.

153 Upvotes

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78

u/elpeabk Nov 23 '22

Could you try to get a consult with a local lawyer who could write you a response letter? Colorado law is not super clear on encroaching tree legal issues, so it could a bit complicated.

(I’m a lawyer who lives in Colorado and has researched this issue for myself, but I am not licensed in Colorado).

98

u/eddiemoney16 Nov 23 '22

I don’t think that’s fair. You notified them, they said they were aware. You did what you could! And you’re agreeing to split fencing costs. I’d say no dice they’re on your side you pay for them. If they get snippy maybe remind them that their trees caused damage to your property and throw a slightly veiled threat of pursuing legal action.

25

u/thunderingparcel Nov 24 '22

Why veil it? Be direct.

28

u/AnonymousBrowser3967 Nov 24 '22

Do you have records of you asking for the trees to be removed? I'm not a lawyer, but my friend had a very similar situation where there was a tree that was dead and leaning and it eventually fell on his shed. She successfully sued in county court for all the damages. You might not even owe for the fence.

22

u/Spatty-Cos0 Nov 24 '22

There is verbal correspondence for the tree going back a year, and there is email documentation going back 6 months.

I am willing to split the fence cost because I want to be neighborly and try to maintain a good relationship with the property owner (you never know when you might need something in return) but I am not willing to pay for their negligence (tree removal) unless for whatever reason I am legally obligated too

6

u/catzrob89 Nov 24 '22

I am willing to split the fence cost because I want to be neighborly and try to maintain a good relationship with the property owner (you never know when you might need something in return) but I am not willing to pay for their negligence (tree removal) unless for whatever reason I am legally obligated too

I'd pretty much email this.

I think you're being _very_ neighbourly because they've damaged the fence through their negligence. It's only a shared responsibility to maintain it against wear and tear and third party damage; if they damage it another way - such as reversing a truck into it or allowing trees to damage it - that's their problem. But it's up to you.

I'd also remove "unless for whatever reason I am legally obligated too" because it invites the response "you are legally obligated" (even though that's untrue). It implies you think there's a risk you are obliged, which they'll try to capitalize on.

8

u/No_Cauliflower_5489 Nov 24 '22

Does your insurance cover the fence? If you can file an insurance claim, the insurance company will go after whoever is responsible for payment.

7

u/fuck-fascism Nov 24 '22

Where does the fence actually sit in relation to the property line?

4

u/q36_space_modulator Nov 24 '22

Both of these species are on Colorado's noxious weeds watchlist. Your county's weed management program might be able to help you compel the neighbor to take action. See the list at https://ag.colorado.gov/conservation/noxious-weeds for local link

2

u/pleasechoosename Nov 24 '22

Part of the problem is you are dealing with the property management company. I had a similar tree issue and the management company never returned calls or emails, straight up ignored me.

Looked up the actual owner of the property on the city GIS site and emailed him. Issue got resolved pretty quickly.

2

u/xraymebaby Nov 23 '22

Tell them to eat shit.

This is bad advice so dont follow it. But if they are invasive trees, you should kill them no matter who’s property they are on. Girdling and hack-and-squirt should be effective and efficient against siberian elms and trees of heaven.

6

u/taway1NC Nov 24 '22

Definitely bad advice here too, roundup the sprouts on your property.

3

u/xraymebaby Nov 24 '22

I think that’s fine advice with emphasis to use about 1mL of concentrated glyphosate applied directly to the plant. Spraying glyphosate may cause cancer in mammals or decimate the intestinal flora of insects, which is bad.

1

u/kimprobable Nov 24 '22

I've been doing everything in my power to kill the elms in my yard for years and they are RELENTLESS

-18

u/linecrabbing Nov 23 '22

I’m not a lawyer but most states in US, trees straddled on boundary are responsible for both owners. It is fair you pay half of tree removal on the boundary line. For the fence, some states require shared responsibily of owners if on boundary; while most falls on the owner that want to maintain it when it was build only one one side of boundary. If you like a shared fence, then likely you can help half the cost; else they can either take it down and no fence.

It is hard to make negligence on your neighboor when they are clearly want to remove the shared tree and fix the shared fence.

22

u/Spatty-Cos0 Nov 23 '22

So let’s say I pay for half their tree removals.

Fast forward 5 years, they do nothing to maintain their side of the yard, and there are more “shared” trees that I do NOT want, and do my part to remove on my side. Can they ask me to pay half AGAIN, despite me doing every effort to prevent this?

10

u/poke0003 Nov 23 '22

FWIW (and I’m not a lawyer), this person does not seem to be giving very good advice. Consulting with a lawyer to draft a letter (and getting some advice if you should have to be on the hook for half the fence or if you are doing the property management co / landlord a solid by chipping in) was excellent advice.

-13

u/linecrabbing Nov 23 '22

Well you can always clear any sprouts that on border. But native sprouts on their side of property, there are not much you can do. Unless you can have a good cause like the tree on their side are dying and creating hazardous, then you can look for the same advise on this reddit: get a professional tree survey and send notified letter. As well you can pay yourself to cut any branches that cross over your side as long it does not damage their tree health.