Tree Leaning Onto Neighbor's House--Who's Liable? - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

8/8/07-Gregg County

Tree Leaning Onto Neighbor's House--Who's Liable?

A situation that can cause a splinter between East Texas homeowners. You may know this scenario first-hand - your neighbor's tree, clearly on their property, growing toward or about to fall on yours.  And the question is, who is liable?  One homeowner said she's stuck between a rock and a hard place.

'It's like the golden arches, just going over our house."

Mary Parham of Gregg County is talking about a tree that's growing toward and literally arching over the top of her house.

"The tree is not on my property.  It's a good six feet back in to their property.  It's not a property line tree, it's growing out of the woods.  It's just like it's been sucked out of the woods for some reason," Mary said.

The tree's base is on her neighbor's property, but the tree itself is on Mary's property.  Now she's afraid that, one of these days, it's just going to fall onto her house. 

"I mean it's over our bedroom.  Bad things could happen," she says. "It should be their responsibility and, of course, we've watched it grow from being several feet of our house to now it's touching our house."

Mary said she's sent certified letters and talked with her neighbor, but nothing's been done. She just wants to see the tree cut down, but she's afraid to do it herself.

"It would kill the tree if we cut it.  So I don't want to be responsible for cutting the tree, and it would be wrong.  So what I'm asking is what's right and what's wrong?," she said.

"My advice would be not to cut the tree down without an agreement from the neighbor," said local attorney Frank Supercinski.  He also said if the tree's alive, don't cut it down without written permission from your neighbor.

"The property owner has a neighborly duty to consider things like that, but the law is not clear whether he has a legal duty," Supercinski said.

But, if the tree is dead and causes damage, then you can blame your neighbor. If all else fails and you can't work it out, then take it to court where a judge will decide. As for Mary, she guesses she'll just wait for the tree to finally fall.

We spoke with Mary's neighbor who didn't want to go on camera, but said she's told Mary she could cut the tree down.  She also said she will send Mary written permission to do so.

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com

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