What To Do With a Neighbor’s Tree

The neighbor’s tree branches come across the property line. The suckers from their poplars are coming through the lawn. Their leaves seem to fall in your yard, but not theirs. What is a landowner to do?

Idaho adopted the common law of England when it became a state. The common law is that part of English law derived from judicial precedent, rather than statutes.

Under the common law, a property owner could cut off at the property line the limbs of a tree that are on a neighboring property. If the roots of a tree penetrate neighboring land the neighbor may dig them out. However, a property owner has no duty to prevent the limbs or roots of a tree from crossing over onto an adjoining property.

When trees are located on the boundary between adjoining property owners, they are treated as being jointly owned by the property owners. If the adjoining property owners cannot agree on the trees, a property owner may still bring a nuisance action if the trees constitute a threat or pose a potential harm.

For example, a tree on a common boundary whose roots exert sufficient pressure on a home’s basement walls to push the walls inward may be entitled to remove the tree at their own expense since it is a nuisance. Lemon v. Curington, 78 Idaho 522 (1957).

As for the leaves – you get to rake them whether they are yours or the neighbors!