A strong relationship with your neighbors is critical to having a happy homelife. This is even more evidenced when making decisions regarding the upkeep and aesthetics of your house, which indirectly affects the value and appeal of the surrounding homes. Nowhere are strong interpersonal relationships more evident than when confronting a neighbor about an overhanging limb or dead tree, and who is financially responsible.

Let’s start at the beginning, one does not require a permit in order to remove a tree of their land in the state of Indiana. Under the Law of Nuisance circa 2013, a person must reasonably maintain their property to not interfere with the use and enjoyment of their neighbors property. Overhanging and dead tree limbs could fall under this realm. Here is the most crucial part: whoever’s property the tree trunk is on, owns and is responsible for the tree. Even if a tree overhangs onto someone else’s property, the only person who can legally do anything about the tree is the one who claims the ground under which the trunk begins. This includes if the tree is a danger to someone’s home, the person who can alter its fate is the one who claims the trunk.

If a tree trunk lies on two owners’ land, then joint custody of the tree is issued to both landowners and any action upon it would need to be communicated and okayed by both parties. However, a neighbor is fully within their legal right to trim back any portion of a tree that encroaches onto their land, up to the property line, so long as they do not trespass on their neighbors property. And thus, there is legal ground to sue for fallen branches onto someone’s yard, if they cause damage. Again, a nice relationship amongst homeowners is important, not like the families in Christmas Vacation.

Liability is not absolute so make sure to research your state’s laws. We have outlaid the legal obligations but the monetary costs are murkier. Being on good terms with one’s neighbors never hurts and in this case can help defray the cost of landscaping duty.

It can also be tough to know who should pay for removal of a tree on another’s land. If a tree lies on your neighbor’s land, it is technically their responsibility to pay for it. But if it threatens your land you might be inclined to assist or split payment, depending on the relationship and the danger and potential cost of failure on your property.