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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    Default Neighbor Planted a Row of Trees Across the Property Line

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: North Carolina

    A previous owner of the neighboring house planted a row of privacy trees (they are quite large now) along what he thought was the property line several years ago. The neighboring house has changed owners a few times since the trees were planted, and we bought our house 3 years ago. We are going to have a fence installed and thus ordered a survey with the property line staked.

    As a result of the survey, we learned that out of ~20 trees that were planted, 5 were planted with trunks fully on our property (with the first tree about 4 feet on our side of the property line, and each subsequent tree a bit closer to the line). Another 6 or 7 of the trees have trunks that straddle the property line, while the remaining trees were planted fully on the neighbor's property.

    We would like to have the trees that were planted on our side of the property line, as confirmed by the survey, removed. Ordinarily, we would just have a chat with the neighbors and let them know what we're doing, but that's not possible. The neighboring house has been vacant for several months after the owners moved out. We don't mind footing the bill for the tree removal and aren't looking to force the neighbors to remove them, but we want to take them down.

    Is it ok for us to move forward with removing the 5 trees that were planted on our side of the property line?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,668

    Default Re: Neighbor Planted a Row of Trees Across the Property Line

    The simple answer is that if the five trees are completely on your property they are your trees regardless of how that got there. You can remove them.

    The complicated answer would involve what was the intention of the owners of both your property and the neighbor's property when the trees were planted. Was it intended to be a boundary fence line? But this answer would lead to court and cost big money to establish.

    I think it is safe to take them down considering the property is vacant.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    2,568

    Default Re: Neighbor Planted a Row of Trees Across the Property Line

    I think it is safe to take them down considering the property is vacant.
    Unfortunately for you, Budwad is not going to be available to you to pursue his/her advice in this matter in court.

    As regards going to court. I will not be available either. No one here on this forum will be showing up in court in your behalf. I don't think any attorney would advise you to just "remove" the trees in question.

    The advice provided by budwad:

    I think it is safe to take them down considering the property is vacant.
    Get the advice of a local attorney. It's simply irresponsible to state that trees which might have other ownership can simply be ripped out. DON'T DO IT without the advice of an attorney.
    Resistance is not futile; it is voltage divided by current.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    6,668

    Default Re: Neighbor Planted a Row of Trees Across the Property Line

    I will stand by what I posted that a property owner has an absolute right to cut down his own trees on his own property. The 5 trees in question are solely on OP's property and have been there for 7 years. They are not boundary trees. There is no joint ownership with the neighbor. There is no boundary by agreement. There is no boundary by acquiescence. There is no claim for adverse possession. Those are the facts we are dealing with.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    15,935

    Default Re: Neighbor Planted a Row of Trees Across the Property Line

    Quote Quoting mtngrl
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    Is it ok for us to move forward with removing the 5 trees that were planted on our side of the property line?
    On this one, I am leaning more towards Bud's view of things than landsurveyer's (which is unusual). However, I will also offer some practical, cautionary advice. You need to be thinking quite clearly about how things will look from your backyard with those 5 trees removed. Will there be gaps in the tree line which will be unattractive?...or are they all on one end?

    You may not want to do that if its going to spoil the aesthetics for you.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    372

    Default Re: Neighbor Planted a Row of Trees Across the Property Line

    I don't follow your argument that you are incapable of discussing the tree issue with the property owners because the house is currently vacant. Can you not locate the current owners and write them a letter discussing your fence plans, the trees, and your opinion of the property line? What methods have you tried to locate the owners?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: Neighbor Planted a Row of Trees Across the Property Line

    Given the OP has owned the property for only 3 years, I would suggest LS's advice be the more prudent action lest OP may find themselves being sued for thousands of dollars for damaging the trees, especially if the neighbors should choose to argue any claim that would allow for the surveyed line not being the definitive boundary. Boundary by acquiescence or adverse possession (either for a claim of ownership or prescriptive easement) could be a possibility.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    15,935

    Default Re: Neighbor Planted a Row of Trees Across the Property Line

    The problem is that the OP needs to install a fence. I would basically suggest that the OP go ahead and install the fence along the boundary line as much as possible. If that means that 5 of the trees end up in his fenced backyard, so be it...particularly if the fence is needed for a specific reason.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    6,668

    Default Re: Neighbor Planted a Row of Trees Across the Property Line

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    Given the OP has owned the property for only 3 years, I would suggest LS's advice be the more prudent action lest OP may find themselves being sued for thousands of dollars for damaging the trees, especially if the neighbors should choose to argue any claim that would allow for the surveyed line not being the definitive boundary. Boundary by acquiescence or adverse possession (either for a claim of ownership or prescriptive easement) could be a possibility.
    Any claim for a boundary by acquiescence or adverse possession or for a prescriptive easement would require the trees to have been there for the statutory period of 20 years which is clearly not the case from the facts that OP has posted.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Neighbor Planted a Row of Trees Across the Property Line

    boundary by acquiescence does not require the 20 years. There are other possibilities as well. Regardless of how you personally feel about LS, the fact remains he is a licensed surveyor and has likely dealt with situations similar to this where simply ripping out the trees resulted in a very bad situation for the person. There are times prudence is the best course and simply removing the trees is not prudent.

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