As a land surveyor, I get this question all the time from my clients. The answer depends on what state you live in, and if you’ve made certain the limb is actually on your property. Each state may have different rules regarding overhanging limbs. Contact your local municipality or the Maine Forest Service to confirm the laws surrounding an overhanging tree limb. Generally, In Maine, branches that have grown over the property line, are permitted to be cut all the way to the property line.
We recommend a few first steps before you take out the chainsaw.
Obtain a land survey
Before you start pruning your neighbor’s tree, reach out to a professional land surveyor to determine the approximate location of the property boundaries. You may be pleased to learn that the tree with overhanging limbs, is actually located on your property.
Reaching out to your neighbor
This can be a tricky situation. While it may seem like you are being kind by cutting down their tree limb, your neighbor may feel that you were not respectful in how you’ve handled it. You should reach out to your neighbor first.
Deciding what to do with a shared tree
If the tree is on the actual property line, both you and your neighbor are responsible for the upkeep of the tree on either side of the boundary line. Discussing directly with your neighbor will help determine the next steps.
What legal steps are available if your neighbor refuses
As a general rule, it is illegal to remove limbs or branches from another person’s tree, unless you can prove with a land survey that the limbs are overhanging onto your property. This is because all trees on private property in Maine are protected by law.
However, if you have made numerous requests to your neighbor asking them to remove the limbs or branches and they refuse to do so, you may be able to obtain permission from a judge in order to cut them back.
If you are unsure of your property boundary lines, reach out to the team at Herrick & Salsbury, Inc. today to set up your land survey appointment. Visit www.herrickandsalsbury.com for more information.