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Old 08-03-2012, 01:26 AM
 
7 posts, read 208,954 times
Reputation: 33

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I've posted this question before and received a lot of opinions (for which I am grateful) but...no one seems to have any LEGAL advice to ofter.

Here's my situation in a nut shell:

My former neighbor built up his lot and then planted some trees and "leaned" them towards my property, but thankfully, he has since moved.

The people that moved in last year, are a nice older couple, early 60s, semi retired I believe. We've chatted for a few mins here and there, but I really have no interest in socializing beyond polite chit chat.
Here's the problem, those trees, that were planted about 8 years ago have become overgrown and now over hang onto my property (well, I think the "airspace" is my property, but I'm not sure....DO I OWN THE AIR SPACE ?) and I'd like to plant a flower and vegetable garden there, as the rest of my property is already landscaped with lawn, flowers, etc., but this free area that I have is almost 100% shaded because of the trees whose branches hang over my lot, totally blocking any sunlight.
The branches hang anywhere for 3 feet to 10 over.
I spoke with the wife and she agreed to let me trim a FEW branches last fall - just a LITTLE bit. And she discussed having the trees staked so that the tops of the trees fall over the her side, but nothing was ever done about it.
Now those branches are even bigger and I really have very little light on that side of my house.

I spoke with the wife again on Tues and even showed her how much the trees were blocking the sun to my yard, but she really didn't care.
She said she "loved the trees and NEVER wants to cut them" and directed me NOT to cut them under any circumstances. And said she would talk to her husband and he would trim a "few branches" - but not for "two weeks."
I told her that I would hire a professional tree trimmer and she said "NO, no, don't do that, don't touch those trees"
I explained that I only wanted her to trim the trees back to the property line, but she said she would "absolutely not" cut the trees back that far back and told me to grow shade plants instead !

I gotta admit, for a little old lady, she's got some big ....ahmmmm..."nerve" on her to suggest that. lol

She's truly not interested in doing what's right, and being a responsible neighbor, she's only interested in doing what works out best for her and her property.
BTW, did I mention that these 6 or so trees have 100 of thousands of TINY leaves on them that fall for about 2 months of the years ? And of course, since the trees were planted to lean to my side of the property, ALL those leaves fall on MY property and I have to spent my weekends in the Fall raking them up.
I mentioned this to my neighbor and she said, "Oh, that's ok, it's not that bad" and when I explained I really didn't care to spend all that time raking up after HER trees, she said I could use them as "mulch". When I said I "prefer a tidy appearance", she said, "Well, just don't trim my trees"

My question is :
AM I LEGALLY ALLOWED TO CUT THE BRANCHES OR DO THE BRANCHES THAT HANG OVER TO MY PROPERTY BELONG TO THE NEIGHBOR AND THEREFORE I AM NOT
LEGALLY ALLOWED TO CUT THE OVER HANGING BRANCHES ?

I'm going to wait the 2 weeks that she asked for , but since she said that her husband was going to do it, I can't imagine how he'll be able to reach high enough. Aside from that, she's made it clear that she's really not going to cut all have much because she will lose her privacy (she doesn't seem to care that I'm losing the full use of land to do with as I want to ...."plant shade plants instead" pppfffftttt ! lol )

Thank you to anyone has any WA state legal advice they can offer me !
PS: Sorry, guess that "nut shell" was larger than I thought . lol
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Old 08-03-2012, 07:00 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle, originally from SF Bay Area
14,759 posts, read 18,084,357 times
Reputation: 10312
It's been my understanding that you may remove branches at the property line that hang over your property, but may not do do in a manner that will do irreparable harm to the tree, and are trespassing if you go onto their property to do the work. If the trimming resulted in further die-back, disease or dangerous lopsidedness you could be sued.
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:46 AM
 
7 posts, read 208,954 times
Reputation: 33
Thanks for your reply "Hemlock", yes that's my understanding also, but I'm really looking for a LEGAL opinion. IE, " Law/Code # ____________ states ..."
Or maybe someone who has been in this situation situation in WA and knows what the law is.
I'd like to be able to cite to my neighbor what the actual LAW states.
I even tired calling the city and they seemed completely baffled as to any laws regarding property line issues.
Thanks anyway and have a great day !
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:31 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
33,420 posts, read 19,308,861 times
Reputation: 23330
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
It's been my understanding that you may remove branches at the property line that hang over your property, but may not do do in a manner that will do irreparable harm to the tree, and are trespassing if you go onto their property to do the work. If the trimming resulted in further die-back, disease or dangerous lopsidedness you could be sued.
This sounds about right, but if you want, I'll check with my real estate lawyer brother. He's in CA, but his input may be helpful. You could also do something I've done in the past; look up real estate lawyers in your phone directory, and just call one and ask. They do give free help over the phone, if it's something simple.
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Old 08-03-2012, 04:53 PM
 
Location: Greater Puget Sound
1,354 posts, read 1,084,997 times
Reputation: 958
If I was you, I would check with your city.
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:55 PM
 
7 posts, read 208,954 times
Reputation: 33
Hello all.
Thanks for your great suggestions.
I actually did call the city and they seemed totally baffled as how to answer my question. That's what lead me to start doing online research and how I found this great website.
The city acted as if I was the first homeowner to ever ask a question about a property line issue...it was actually a sort of bizarre "out of body" experience, lol ....The only suggestion that woman on the phone could come up with is to "call the courthouse"....Ahhmmm....WHAT?
And thanks Ruth for asking your brother in CA. Who knows, maybe he knows a lawyer here in WA, right?
I'm from CA and grew up in the real estate business and was a real estate agent there and everything was on the books, etc., I when I had an issue with my housing question, I just called the city I lived in and they answered my question...simple as that.
But here in WA, not so easy I'm afraid. *sign*....Oh well, the search for answers goes on.
Thanks again !
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Old 08-03-2012, 11:07 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle, originally from SF Bay Area
14,759 posts, read 18,084,357 times
Reputation: 10312
Maybe this will help. Apparently there are no codes regarding this, just case law, so you are at risk of being sued and
it will be up to the court. I just trimmed some branches off my neighbor's tree hanging over my fence, but they have moved out (short sale pending, waiting for approval by the lender).

Neighbor's Tree Branches Over Fence
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Old 08-05-2012, 01:25 PM
 
4,925 posts, read 6,283,478 times
Reputation: 3129
Do the trees bug you enough to perhaps really screw up any relationship you have/could have with your neighbors for as long as you are neighbors?

Of course, obviously, the answer is entirely up to you. But it is a question that needs to be honestly and thoughtfully answered.
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Old 08-06-2012, 01:19 PM
 
378 posts, read 421,699 times
Reputation: 336
Where I come from, you could trim anything that hangs over your yard but must return the pieces to tree owner. I was surprised to see that this isn't quite as straight forward in WA, but I found this:

Living | Stately trees can be friends or foes | Seattle Times Newspaper
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:18 PM
 
7 posts, read 208,954 times
Reputation: 33
YOU....Sir or Madame are a GENIUS ....EXACTLY the information I've been searching for MONTHS !

I CAN trim the branches !

Yippee ! I CAN use MY land to put in an vegetable garden, flower garden ,etc. !

I'm still going to give diplomacy one last chance, but I doubt that will work ...but I'm still going to give it the old "college try "

Thanks SO much for your help and give yourself a big ol' gold star for the day ! !
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