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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    28

    Default Lumber Rights for Trees on a Right of Way

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: PA
    Question involves trees on a ROW and guy was awarded a 25ft row through our property and will begin to create his road... my question is from what Iíve read and looked up the trees still belong to me and he can cut them and remove them but cannot sell or use for himself? Any help is appreciated

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Trees

    You are correct. The trees remain yours to use, sell, or dispose of as you wish.

    Is there an isssue brewing?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    17,612

    Default Re: Trees

    Quote Quoting Plumout
    View Post
    My question involves real estate located in the State of: PA
    Question involves trees on a ROW and guy was awarded a 25ft row through our property and will begin to create his road... my question is from what I’ve read and looked up the trees still belong to me and he can cut them and remove them but cannot sell or use for himself? Any help is appreciated
    I suggest you cut the trees down yourself and move the pieces to another part of your property for your own future use.

    If he cuts them down I guarantee he will use them or sell them as he sees fit.

    Then what will you do?

    Sue him for the cost of firewood?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: Trees

    Yes he had a logger here trying to sell the trees to him

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    144

    Default Re: Trees

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    Sue him for the cost of firewood?
    If the ROW holder sells the trees to a logger, the OP could pursue a small claims court claim against him for the amount of payment that the logger paid the ROW holder for the trees.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: Trees

    Quote Quoting bigtrees
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    If the ROW holder sells the trees to a logger, the OP could pursue a small claims court claim against him for the amount of payment that the logger paid the ROW holder for the trees.
    Actually the servient tenant may be able to sue for more than the dominant tenant was paid. The servient tenant would be due fair market value of the trees. If the dominant tenant didnít work to contract for that amount, itís on him.

    And if a company is buying the trees, one can be assured the value exceeds firewood value.

    and I donít know what small claims limits are in PA but depending on the size, quality, species, and number of trees, itís conceivable the amount of damages could exceed small claims.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Trees

    Quote Quoting jk
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    Actually the servient tenant may be able to sue for more than the dominant tenant was paid. The servient tenant would be due fair market value of the trees. If the dominant tenant didn’t work to contract for that amount, it’s on him.

    And if a company is buying the trees, one can be assured the value exceeds firewood value.

    and I don’t know what small claims limits are in PA but depending on the size, quality, species, and number of trees, it’s conceivable the amount of damages could exceed small claims.
    I agree completely. Get a certified arborist to measure and ID the trees. Once they are gone, so is the evidence of the theft.

    Get am attorney $XXX to write a demand letter about your property. Do it ASAP. Get it on record before the first tree is cut. Thank us later.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    98,846

    Default Re: Trees

    Quote Quoting Plumout
    View Post
    Question involves trees on a ROW and guy was awarded a 25ft row through our property and will begin to create his road... my question is from what I’ve read and looked up the trees still belong to me and he can cut them and remove them but cannot sell or use for himself? Any help is appreciated
    You cannot stop the dominant tenant from clearing the right of way as necessary to create the drive / road permitted under the right of way -- so obviously some trees will be coming down.

    We have no way to assess the value of the trees. If you believe that the trees have value above and beyond the cost of their removal, you can speak to this person about removing the trees yourself or how they trees should be handled after their removal. If you choose to say and do nothing even as the trees are removed and hauled away, you can expect to have difficulty when you later claim that you objected to the removal of the trees and believe that you are entitled to compensation for the lumber.
    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
    View Post
    I suggest you cut the trees down yourself and move the pieces to another part of your property for your own future use.
    If the intent is to use them as firewood before they turn into a pile of decaying wood, that's an option. If the trees have no value except as firewood, absent a need for that much firewood and a desire to cut it all into cordwood, it's probably best to consider other options.

    If the trees include trees of high value (sometimes a stand of trees can include hardwood trees that have considerable value for their wood, even if most of the trees have little or no value beyond firewood) it is important to determine that and to make sure those trees are properly harvested and preserved. For example, I've seen people with stands that include valuable trees for musical instruments find companies that will come in and selectively harvest and remove those trees, sometimes with a considerable financial return to the landowner.

    When trees have little value, sometimes it is possible to make a deal with a lumber company to remove the trees based upon the value that they can recover from the lumber. That is a cheaper alternative to removing trees yourself, even if you don't end up with money in your pocket, as the lumber company bears the cost -- but they're effectively doing the work in trade for the value of the lumber. It's not automatically the case that the value of the trees exceeds "firewood value", because lumber companies own equipment and operate at scale. If you try to cut and sell firewood, you're apt to find yourself performing a lot of work and then sitting on a lot of slow-selling firewood.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    144

    Default Re: Trees

    I think folks are making this too complicated.

    It sounds to me that the dominant tenant needed to have some trees removed. He is likely to contract with a logging company to remove the trees. If he has to pay the logging company to remove the trees (i.e., timber value is less than cost to log), then the dominant tenant is on the hook for the cost.

    On the other hand, if the logging company will be cutting a check in exchange for removing the trees (i.e., timber value exceeds cost to log), the check should be made payable to the landowner of the servient tenant.

    The servient estate has the right to sue to the dominant tenant for any money received in exchange for removal of trees. This is no different than if, when bringing in heavy equipment to cut the road on the easement, a 100lb gold nugget was uncovered. The 100lb gold nugget would belong to the servient estate, not the dominant estate.

    We are probably not talking about a lot of money here. Probably a few thousand, and probably enough to be under small claims court. That is why I suggested small claims court. If I'm wrong and it turns out to be more than a couple grand, then other options should be considered.

    ---

    EDIT: Other posters are correct to say that the OP could argue that the trees are worth more than the logger paid. While this could be true, likely it is not. If we were to assume that the deal between the dominant estate and the logger was an arms length transaction, then the logger probably paid fair market value.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,701

    Default Re: Trees

    The value of the lumber will depend on the size and species of the trees that need to be cleared. Who makes the money is dependent on who is allowed to log the tree. There are loggers that will low ball the value of valuable trees and then make a big profit on them saying that tree will be sold like any other species.

    For example: a mature black walnut tree that is of veneer quality is worth about $20,000. Not a few thousand dollars.

    I have to agree with other posters that an inventory of the trees should be made by an arborist as to species and value before any deals are struck.

    If we are talking about small junk trees, nobody is going to make money from the lumber. It would likely cost money to get them cleared.

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