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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    2

    Default Neighbor Cutting Trees on Our Property Due to Easement

    We are in the process of purchasing some land (owner financed) in Tennessee. We have been here over 4 years and are just a few months away from full ownership. One of the reasons we loved this property so much was that it was surrounded by trees on all sides. Even though our neighbors are close we have lots of privacy. Last week, we noticed that some trees were being cut near our neighbors house. We thought he was just trimming and cleaning up, so we weren't that concerned. Well, my husband went out yesterday morning and saw that all the trees on the back corner of our property had been clear cut! and several trees on our side of the stand of trees were gone! We measured and walked the property before we purchased it with the deed in hand so we were fairly certain of our property lines. We went next door and our neighbor directed us to another house down the street. The logger was there with his client (they know each other) and we began to question where they were cutting. The lady pulled out a plat map that was very old by property standards (20-30 years). It was before the property was even put into lots. It showed a hand drawn pencil line with easement marked on it, which was also definitely not to scale. The lady said she had a 12 foot easement to get to her property that meets the back of ours and our neighbors lots. We showed the logger our property line and then told him to please not go any further until we could get all the documentation together. He said that he had been told by his client that he could cut to the power lines which actually come within 10 feet of our home and cross over our storage building in the back, clearly much more than a 12 foot easement. He even stated it was a good thing we said something because he was going to clear out the entire stand yesterday, taking all our trees! I immediately called the land owner to see if he had been contacted, he had not and stated that he knew the lines and that all of the trees belonged to us. I spent approx. 2 hours in the register of deeds office and the property assessors office. The lady does have a 12 ft. deeded easement, but according to the people I spoke to at the court house, she is not allowed to alter it in any way without our permission and then any profit from the timber sold would belong to us, the property owners according to what they understood. There is also no actual deed of the easement on file, it is only mentioned. Another fact we came to find out, is that she has access to this property from her own property on which she lives, they actually join each other. According to some of the laws we found, the easement became no longer valid once she had access to her property from other property she owns, from the same exact road (it isn't land locked). The logger stated that there was a gully so it wasn't convenient to access it that way, but we feel that isn't our problem, it's hers. We feel like our land has been permanently altered. Those trees cannot be replaced, and she is making a profit from selling trees which don't belong to her. She also did not have the courtesy to even speak to us before she started. The prop. assessors office was also surprised that the logger would begin cutting without an updated map in hand. According to our deed, and even aerial photos obtained at the courthouse, she is approximately 30 or 40 feet onto our property in some places, if not more in others. We would love any information in regards to use of the easement, with or without permission and our legal rights in regards to compensation. We would also like to know if she even still has use of the easement since she has direct access through her own property two doors down. We want to handle it in the correct way, but we certainly don't want to lose any more trees and we would like for her to at least have to plant some more. Sorry this is so long, it is a complicated situation.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Neighbor Cutting Trees on Our Property Due to Easement

    If you believe you are in the right, get a restraining order to stop the logger until it can be straightened out. Also, put the lady on notice that any income from your trees is yours and that you will be contacting both regarding damages. Not sure what state you are in but the easement issue could go either way. Not recorded, not used but shown on an old map. Who put the map together and why. You may need to call the police or the sheriff department as soon as they start cutting again. Just my .02

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Neighbor Cutting Trees on Our Property Due to Easement

    We are in Tennessee. We do know that the timber theft laws here state that the civil liability for even negligent cutting is double the value. We are thinking of asking for the profit from the trees she cut down that belong to us and then ask her for the money to replant the same number of trees that were taken, even though it would take years and years for them to grow to the level we lost. Would that be reasonable in this situation?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Neighbor Cutting Trees on Our Property Due to Easement

    At least that and then go after the logger. You may very well need the owner of the property to join with you as you are in the process of buying. The main thing is to make sure they stop cutting on your property. Good luck and keep us informed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    327

    Default Re: Neighbor Cutting Trees on Our Property Due to Easement

    I would pay for a new survey and have the corners and boundries staked. IMO, I would also send the neighbor a certified letter telling her to stop cutting your trees and ask her to provide a signed and recorded easement agreement or remain clear of your property. (This board had similar cases where easements were penciled in by surveys on a plat without a formal agreement- they have no value)

    ***I would also tell her that she is responsible for the replacement value of the trees - not the timber value - replacement value would be much more than a straight board foot price - CC the logging company. You may also want to contact code enforcement for the county/city to see if the proper permits were given.

    Read this: http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/uf...ide/values.htm

    One example gave an estimated value of $2500 per tree!

    The industry standard is "Valuation of Landscape Trees, Shrubs, and Other Plants: A Guide to the Methods and Procedures for Appraising Amenity Plants."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    327

    Default Re: Neighbor Cutting Trees on Our Property Due to Easement

    I found something that is Tennessee specific. I hope this helps. Keep us informed.

    http://www.utextension.utk.edu/publi...iles/SP614.pdf

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