Trees add value to residential real estate. Yet, they can also cause problems between neighbors. Under Tennessee law, you own the earth below your land and the air above it. Understanding how this affects trees can help avoid disputes.
If you have an issue with a tree, you need to work out who owns the tree in question. There are two categories: boundary line trees and border trees.
Boundary line trees
If the boundary between two properties passes through its trunk, it is a boundary line tree. You share the tree with your neighbor. Neither of you can remove it without the other’s permission. You can only cut or trim the part of the tree that is on your side of the boundary line — and not in any way that would endanger the health of the tree.
Trees forming a border
If the tree is on your neighbor’s side of the boundary, it belongs to them. You would need to ask them if you want it removed. That does not mean you cannot touch it. Again, you can only cut branches or roots that inhabit your space providing that doing so does not harm the tree.
What if a neighbor’s tree is threatening my property?
Generally speaking, if a dead tree that belongs to your neighbor falls on your property, your neighbor will probably be liable for the damages. If a living tree comes down in a storm or for some other reason, however, the liability may fall to you.
For many homeowners, knowing that a neighbor’s tree poses a hazard to their property can produce a lot of anxiety. If your neighbor is unwilling to work with you to mitigate the potential problem, it may be time to seek help from a real estate attorney. They can help you take the necessary steps to handle your problem.