What Michigan Law Says About Tree Encroachment

Trees should add beauty, shade, and perhaps even fresh fruit to your property. But far too often trees end up causing disputes between neighbors, especially when they grow to be fairly large and encroach on another property.  

If you’re a resident of the state of Michigan and neighbor has a tree that’s bothering you, there are a few things you should know before you take any action. Here’s what you should know:

Potential Issues

If your next-door neighbor has a tree that’s near the boundary line that divides your two properties, there’s a good chance that tree will eventually grow to the point where it will affect your property in some way. The branches may begin to block the sun and drop leaves or pine needles into your backyard. If it’s a fruit-bearing tree, you might start to find ripe fruit in your yard, needing to be picked up before they become rotten. The tree may even grow to the point where it’s now on both of your properties.

What Michigan Law Says

In general, you have no right to touch your neighbor’s tree until the point at which part of it, the limbs and or branches, crosses over your property line. When a tree grows to the point that it’s part of both you and your neighbor’s property, it is now both your tree and neither of you has the right to cut it down without the other’s consent.

If there are just branches hanging over onto your property, you are allowed to trim whatever part of the tree is on your property (and never what is on your neighbor’s side). Tread carefully, however, because if your trimming causes serious damage to the tree or kills it, you can be held legally liable. You can be forced to pay up to three times the value of the tree and can even face jail time in certain cases.

What To Do in the Event of a Dispute

If your neighbor’s tree is bothering you in some way, your first course of action should be to try to handle it civilly with the neighbor. You should hire a surveyor to depict the exact location of the tree in relation to the property line. This cost could be shared between you and your neighbor. If that doesn’t work, check with your municipality to see if there’s anyone who handles these types of disputes. If not, it may be time to seek legal counsel.

If tree encroachment has caused a dispute between you and your neighbor, it might be time to hire a good real estate attorney. In the Detroit Metropolitan Area, Harry Steven Ellman is the right choice. Let him use his four-plus decades of legal expertise to get the best outcome for you! Contact us today to set up an appointment.