Can My Neighbor Cut My Tree Without Asking According to California Law?

Most people living in California and throughout the United States love to have a tree on their property. Trees provide plenty of shade, especially against the harsh California sun, and they add a certain something to your landscape design.

Property owners usually like to have trees dotting their landscaping, but there are some occasions when your neighbor may not be as pleased with encroaching tree branches or roots on their properties. In some situations, individuals have taken their neighbors to small claims court because they have chopped down trees on their property without permission.

Understanding the rights that a homeowner has is a common question because it is not always clear and there is some amount of grey area to accommodate for. At Cut Rite Tree Service in Fresno, CA, our team has the experience, knowledge, and expertise to make sure that your trees do not cross the lines of your adjoining landowners, and we are happy to answer any of your questions.

Read further to find out more about your neighbor’s crossing the property line, cutting down trees, and your legal right as a tree owner. The primary point to remember is that your neighbor has no right to come onto your property without a direct invitation from you for any reason. This includes dealing with a tree.

Trees and Your Fresno, CA, Neighbor’s Property Line

According to California Civil Code sections 833 and 834, trees whose trunks reside on one person’s property belong exclusively to that tree owner’s property, even if the branches or roots extend to a neighbor’s property. The tree owner, of course, has a duty to care for the tree and keep it maintained so that it does not cause any harm or damage.

In general, your neighbor cannot cut down or trim branches on your tree without your permission. An exception is if the tree lies on the boundary line and is considered a boundary tree. Then you both have the right to care for it and trim it on your own private property. If the entire tree is on your side, though, your neighbor has no right to come onto your own land and cut it down.

However, if a part of your tree is hanging into their yard, they are allowed to cut that portion down, as long as it does not cause irreparable harm to the tree. It may require the expert services of an experienced tree trimming company to properly trim the encroaching branches.

The Neighbor’s Tree Is Not Your Own and Vice Versa

Remember, your neighbor’s property is his own and yours is your own. There is no ability to cross the property lines into a tree owner’s land. The tree on your property is your own, but the unfortunate reality is that many tree disputes have arisen due to encroaching trees on neighboring properties.

To avoid these kinds of disputes as well as going to small claims court, it is best to have a civil conversation with your neighbor and let them know if and when their overhanging branches have caused problems. If your tree is the one that is encroaching on your neighbors’ property, it is wise to discuss options with your neighbors before any actual damage occurs.

Can a Property Owner Force Me to Cut Down a My Tree?

Absolutely not. Your tree is on your own property, and your neighbors cannot force you to remove a tree that is solidly on your property. However, if the tree is causing damage to the neighbor’s yard or property, then you are responsible for the damage. This includes fallen trees, tree debris, fallen fruit, encroaching roots, and broken branches.

Tree law dictates, though, that a tree owner cannot be forced to remove the tree without due cause. If the tree is poisonous or inherently dangerous, a neighbor can actually sue for the damage. Keep in mind that a neighbor could sue you if there was actual damage to their property or home as a result of your tree, and you may have to pay compensation for the damages.

How to Deal with a Tree that Lies on Both Properties

If a tree stands partly on your land and partly on your neighbor’s land, that would be considered having joint ownership of the tree. It means that you both consent to caring for and altering the tree. In most circumstances, the property owners come to an agreement on how to take care of the tree and what type of maintenance will need to be done regularly.

Sometimes it becomes difficult to come to an agreement with your neighbor regarding the maintenance of the tree, and it may require a neutral third party to work out how the tree will be maintained. When the tree belongs to both property owners, it can most certainly be a challenge to figure out the best way to deal with the tree that will make both parties happy.

Our team at Cut Rite Tree Service in Fresno, CA, is happy to provide you the best possible maintenance that is sure to satisfy you and your neighbor.

Contact Our Tree Experts in Fresno, CA, to Learn about California Tree Law

If you are a property owner whose tree seems to be causing problems for your neighbor, you may need the help of an expert tree surgeon such as ours at Cut Rite Tree Service. Our team of tree specialists is here to ensure that the trees on your property are well cared for and properly trimmed to make sure that they do not cause any harm to your neighbor’s property.

We are dedicated to providing the highest quality tree services to residents and business owners in the Fresno, California, area. This includes tree trimming, tree pruning, tree removal, emergency tree services, stump grinding, and lot clearing. We are well-versed in the laws regarding trees and property lines, so we can help you ensure that your trees will not cross the boundary lines with your neighbor.


We are a locally owned company that prides ourselves in providing the best service possible for the residents of Fresno, Clovis, Madera, Sanger, Folwer, Reedley and the surrounding areas.

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1806 N Temperance
Fresno, CA 93727


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