My neighbor has an African tulip tree that they refuse to take responsibility for, despite repeated requests (by myself) over several years and repeated promises (by them) to do so. It is planted right next to my brick wall and the invasive roots are not only damaging my pool pipes (right next to the wall) and popping up in my lawn, but now the wall is buckling as well. How can I kill this tree cheaply as they don't seem to care about the damage it is causing.
Cathy from Townsville, QLD
First off, understand that I am neither a lawyer nor an insurance professional, and I would recommend you consult with qualified professionals before taking any course of action. Second, don't attempt to kill their tree or you may find yourself in legal trouble. If a neighbor's tree fell in your yard and damaged your property, it would probably be covered under your homeowners insurance. When a neighbor's tree causes damage to your property due to his or her negligence, and it can be determined that they knew about it but failed to act, the circumstances are (usually) a bit different.
In negligent cases, you may be able to submit a liability claim against their insurance company to cover the cost of the damages. A lawsuit is also not out of the question. Consult with your insurance agent and legal counsel to clarify the insurance and legal issues involved before taking action. You may want to have a tree expert (or pool repair company) come out to give you a written estimate of the damages. Send a copy of this estimate to your neighbors with another request to resolve the situation and make sure to keep records of everything.
Remember that a tree expert or repairman cannot legally go on your neighbor's property without their permission. Do not try to cut down or kill off your neighbor's tree until you know the legal ramifications. Trees are considered personal property. If you kill or damage the health or structure of your neighbor's tree, you could be held liable. Whatever you do, try to maintain a neighborly attitude. Depending on your relationship, you may even offer to help buy them a replacement tree or cover part of the repairs.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.
You should contact your city office and see what the law is on this topic. You do have property rights and their tree is damaging your property. You could also contact a lawyer. If you kill their tree, they might end up calling a lawyer. And how much will that cost you?
The point: you must get the law on your side first.
You could also file a complaint with the police. Don't call 911, this is not an emergency. Call the regular police number, ask them to come out to your house to see the damage, and tell them the problem you are having and ask them for their advice. Then ask if you can at least file a complaint. Having a paper trail is the first step you need to do and that complaint will be the first step in that trail. The police will probably talk to your neighbors and get them to promise to do something about the tree.
I doubt a promise to the police is legally binding but, again, it is the first step in making a paper trail.
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