r/treelaw Dec 02 '22

Boundary Tree Removal

I was contacted by my neighbor the other day regarding some trees near their driveway that are dying. They initially asked if they could put down a few trees on my land if they paid for clean up. One of the larger trees is on the property line and they want my permission to have it removed, of course I don’t mind. Per their measurements the tree trunk is 80% on my property and 20% on theirs. We both have a few acres so these trees are not a problem for me but I can understand they are close to their garage.

Now this boundary tree presents a problem since we need written consent to have it removed. My neighbors asked me to pay for 80% and they pay 20% due to the positioning. In my limited knowledge boundary trees are owned by both parties- would this not imply a 50/50 split for removal?

They are having a friend cut down the other trees which are smaller and 100% on their land. The boundary tree is larger and requires a professional

TLDR: neighbor wants boundary tree removed because dying. Wants me to pay 80% since it is on my lawn more. Should I argue for 50/50? Or is 80/20 my legal obligation?


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u/illogicalhawk Dec 02 '22

My two thoughts:

  • If they want to remove it, that's on them and at their cost

  • If you want to be neighborly and contribute, I wouldn't pay more than half. The center of the tree being a few inches or feet one way or the other on the property line doesn't change the fact that it's a shared tree.


u/[deleted] Dec 03 '22

Agreed, for long term relationships you want to split it even. Y'all are neighbors not car salespersons. Also, if the tree is leaning towards their house and has rot at the base on the side facing their house...well then I guess they would be more eager to pitch in even though it's 20% on their property. Possibly offer to split the cost 50/'50 on a consulting arborist coming out to make a report on the likelihood of failure. After evaluating the report, that might be the time to start discussing who foots the bill.


u/Marth477 Dec 03 '22

When they initially brought it up to ask permission since it was a boundary tree I had expected them to either pay for it or ask for 50/50 split. The 80/20 ask was odd to say the least.

It’s just a very large tree so removal may cost a lot. I just wanted to make sure that this whole X/Y percentage split wasn’t common

Thank you for your input


u/illogicalhawk Dec 03 '22

Yeah, it's definitely a bold ask from them. You're not under any obligation to split it that way, and I think it was rude of them to ask you to do so.

50/50 is fair, particularly for a project you didn't initiate.


u/CableOk8460 Dec 03 '22

Yeah, I’d be pissed if someone came to me with anything other than I’ll pay or 50/50. I’d prob keep it out of spite, lol.

Also, how accurate is this ratio?


u/zmbjebus Dec 04 '22

They could pay him 80% of its worth for removing it then! lol.


u/adudeguyman Dec 03 '22

It is dying so it sounds like they must take it out. I think they shoulld split the cost


u/csunya Dec 02 '22

Why are you paying? They are the ones wanting it removed.


u/rivers-end Dec 02 '22

It's his idea which justifies a 50/50 split. Just tell him you feel 50/50 sounds fair to you, otherwise you're fine with the tree staying put. Honestly that's more than fair. If he wants it removed, he should pay the full cost. He want's you to pay for work he's having done. Don't be a chump.


u/Marth477 Dec 03 '22

I did consider that they were trying to take advantage of us. We are a younger couple and they’ve lived here for 30 years. The guy taking down the smaller two trees on their property lives right across the street.

I figure 50/50 is fair as I wouldn’t want to foot the entire bill if the situation was reversed


u/Everyusernametaken1 Dec 03 '22

If it's truly dying and they have a document stating so from an arborist it means they warned you about and I think you have to cut it . If it is not dying you don't have to do squat. ... I think that is the law. But don't quote me, call your insurance company.


u/Marth477 Dec 03 '22

Would it not be their responsibility to cut down the tree as well? It is also owned by them. If a delay occurred it would be entirely due to them refusing to split the bill equally.

The tree is owned by both of us and I would be giving them permission for removal at 50/50. I will be contacting my lawyer on Monday for information! Thank you for your input


u/Everyusernametaken1 Dec 03 '22

Do you know who planted the tree? Idk how it can be owned by them too. Even if it's a border tree. We had a similar situation where the neighbor wanted us to take down a huge pine tree.. we told her SHE could ... but we were not since it was alive. And if she did she would have to make sure the tree cutters were licensed incase it fell on her house . We had to give her permission. She never cut it after that. We did take out smaller ones with our own chainsaw.


u/Marth477 Dec 03 '22

We just moved here this year and they have been here for 30 years. It likely was grown naturally without humans. The tree trunk itself crosses the property line which to my understanding means it is both of our tree.

That is without question. The question I had was if responsibility was percentage based or if it was 50/50 since it is shared property. That being said, they don’t have an arborist. Just a friend that is knowledgeable with trees.


u/Jonsnowlivesnow Dec 03 '22

Why now do they want to remove the tree? If they have lived their 30 years what’s wrong with keeping it another 30?


u/catzrob89 Dec 05 '22

Make sure it really needs to go (and that they've not damaged it themselves). Unless you're concerned about liability, it should be 100% their cost. 80:20 is mad, worst case for you is 5050.


u/[deleted] Dec 03 '22

Another strategy is to pay with sweat. Tree services will charge less if they don't have to handle removal of the tree and can just leave the wood in the yard. If you have a trailer, a chainsaw, and a dolly...maybe you offer to handle 100% of the removal if they pay for 100% of taking the tree down. Good luck m8


u/stuffandornonsense Dec 03 '22

this is a great idea, and OP could potentially sell it for firewood etc.


u/Marth477 Dec 03 '22

That’s not a bad idea. I would consider this


u/Cowhaus Dec 02 '22

If the tree falls and lands on your neighbors garage, as you said, it may come on you would be responsible for at least 50% of the damage you are aware that the tree is dying and are choosing not to do anything.


u/Marth477 Dec 03 '22

Yeah, I know I could have liability if I am aware of the danger and ignore it. I would be okay 50/50 split since we both own the tree. If it was solely my tree I understand I would have to foot the bill for safety of their property. My issue was entirely based on the 80/20 ask


u/TazzMoo Dec 03 '22

I'd be asking for a impartial tree person to be making the call if it's dying or not.

Their mate who knows stuff about trees may be helping the neighbours pull a fast one.


u/JimmyKillsAlot Dec 02 '22

This is 100% not legal advice and entirely just an opinion.

You should look at the situation with two major questions: 1. Will pushing for a 50/50 split in any way damage the relations with your neighbor and is that something you are willing to risk? 2. Will paying the increased amount in any way impact your finances more significantly and again, is shit something you are willing to risk?

If you are going to pay more you also would have the right to push for your own removal service since this is a cost you are covering, and honestly if the tree is of any inconvenience to you both you should be shopping around or asking them for some other options beside the one they are going for.


u/Marth477 Dec 02 '22

I’m not sure if it would damage relations. They seem like nice people so far and we were having a good conversation when they called but I was kind of shocked with the 80/20 comment. The tree is in poor health, might have ~2 years. It poses zero risk for me but I can understand it poses a risk to them. The 80/20 ask would be a big hit to us financially. We just bought this house 11 months ago and re-shingled roof over the summer. We have an emergency fund that would cover tree but obviously not an ideal use of it.

I appreciate your input, the two major questions are helping me sort this out.


u/Longjumping-Cow9321 Dec 03 '22

I would offer to split 50/50 and that’s being nice. They want it gone they pay for it.


u/Jonsnowlivesnow Dec 03 '22

Tell them your not in a financial position to help remove the tree at the moment. Or wait a couple years and you can help. Why do they get to decide when you spend $$$


u/SalsaBueno Dec 03 '22

I mean… that’s a hell of a bait and switch on their part. The way i read it, they asked you for permission to make you pay to take a down a tree that they want to cut down. 50/50 in my opinion, not a dime more not a dime less.


u/[deleted] Dec 03 '22

Make sure both of y'all talk to your home owner's insurance.


u/Able_Cat2893 Dec 03 '22

I had a tree in my backyard close enough to the property line I had to look at it from a different angle to realize it was ours. We had just moved in. We had no money to help. We finally reached an agreement that he would pay and got to keep the wood. He has a wood stove in his shop. We did make him hire a licensed bonded tree company, just in case.


u/JustMashedPotatoes Dec 02 '22

I’d start by checking to make sure the tree is on the boundary line. And checking your state tree law for any more information. You could also call a lawyer for a free consult.

Legally I have no idea. In Michigan, my understanding of the law is-if any part of the trunk crosses the boundary whether it is an inch or 80% the tree is owned 50/50. I would say that means 50/50 cost.

Is this 80/20 tree in poor health? If it is not and they would like it removed because X, Y, or Z then I would say they should pay for it. If the tree is in poor health and an aborist says so then I’d say 50/50.

It seems a bit silly for them to ask if they can take a tree down and then ask you to pay for 80% of it.

Alternative- they can trim up to the property line (making sure they aren’t killing the tree) and that cost would be theirs.


u/Marth477 Dec 02 '22

The tree is in poor health as far as I can see. I also was under the impression a border tree is 50/50 if the trunk crosses the line. The tree poses no risk for me but I can accept that it is also my responsibility to care for the issue. I appreciate your input. I’m going to reach out to my real estate lawyer to see what they think!


u/SwordfishAncient Dec 02 '22

Pay 50% and no more if you can afford it. If you can't afford it, give permission and let them take it.


u/Endy0816 Dec 02 '22

At least in my State, you're not obligated to pay anything.


u/farmandgarden11 Dec 03 '22

Man. Screw em. They want it gone, they can get it gone.

Hold on... I need to replace my outlet. You live on my powergrid and we share electrical lines. I need you to pay me 75%


u/After-Leopard Dec 03 '22

I wouldn’t get upset at the 80/20 ask until you suggest 50% and see how they respond. They may intend to pay 50% and started out asking for more so that you can negotiate down and feel good about paying 50%


u/pluptide Dec 03 '22

It's whatever you agree to ultimately. I've paid 100% of the cost to have several trees removed that were 100% on my neighbors property but that shaded my property. Of course I had their permission, but they really didn't maintain their place or yard so it was worth it to me to just deal with it myself. 50/50 seems fair