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Neighbor's tree wreaking havoc on my backyard. Options?


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#1 cadillaccts

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:06 PM

So my neighbor has a somewhat large tree that is developing a root system that's destroying my backyard. This year alone it's killed 4 mature 10' shrubs. My cement patio has substantial cracks and is starting to lift, and my fence - which is next to the tree - is starting to bow out. That's directly related to the base of the tree pushing out the fence.

At this rate, I'm concerned that the root system is going to start cracking my foundation within the next year or two.

Can my neighbor be held responsible for any damages - or at least be responsible for the costs of removing the tree? And can he be forced to remove the tree even if he doesn't want to?

I'm hoping he's cooperative with the issue, but I have not yet approached him as I want to know as much about my rights before I potentially get into a confrontation with him.

My knowledge regarding laws/bylaws is non existent. I've done a bit of research through google, but information seems vague on such a specific issue. I can't find much specific to BC either, and I'm unsure if it would differ from other provinces. This may not be the best forum to ask such a question... but I know there are a lot of smart people here (smarter than me at least :bigblush: )... Does anyone know what my options here are?
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#2 Captain Aerosex

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:08 PM

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Sounds like the only option is to kill your neighbour.
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#3 The Hornet

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:09 PM

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Have you tried talking to the tree and ask it nicely to grow in another direction?
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#4 The Magician

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:11 PM

Option A: Go over with sledge hammer and duct tape and smash his front door in.

Option B: Wait until he leaves and take an axe over and chop it down.

I'd just walk over and tell him whats happening to your yard and ask him if he can have it removed (depending on its size)
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#5 silverpig

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:13 PM

Install an irrigation system in your back yard. It'll require you to trench along the fence. Digging a trench is much easier with a trench machine. Those machines are good especially when there are a lot of rocks and roots.
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#6 EmployeeoftheMonth

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:15 PM

Paper bag
poop
fire
profit.
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#7 Dion Phaneuf

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:18 PM

Put this into the tree...

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http://www.ehow.com/...pper-nails.html



It works, but will take several months.

Edited by The Phaneuf Train, 10 April 2013 - 10:22 PM.

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#8 darnucks

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:19 PM

Anything on your property you can do whatever you like with it. Dig down and chop off the roots as well as hack off all the branches that overhang onto your property.
Of course, you might want to discuss it first with your neighbour in a nice calm matter, good relations with your neighbour is always a plus.
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#9 cadillaccts

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:20 PM

Some great suggestions so far..... Not so informative, but at least you guys are entertaining. Most of these suggestions have honestly crossed my mind already...
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#10 cadillaccts

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:22 PM

Install an irrigation system in your back yard. It'll require you to trench along the fence. Digging a trench is much easier with a trench machine. Those machines are good especially when there are a lot of rocks and roots.


I just googled a trench machine. Those things mean business. I might do that regardless just because it looks fun as hell to use.
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#11 cadillaccts

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:26 PM

Anything on your property you can do whatever you like with it. Dig down and chop off the roots as well as hack off all the branches that overhang onto your property.
Of course, you might want to discuss it first with your neighbour in a nice calm matter, good relations with your neighbour is always a plus.


Yeah, that's really going to be a last resort. Given the layout of my property - and his - it will be a significant amount of work to tackle from my side. Having it removed is optimal, so I'm hoping for the best when I approach him.
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#12 GPCanucksFan

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:35 PM

I suggest calling your city hall and ask about it. I'm sure you can get a city worker or by-law officer or whoever does these thing to come and inspect it and tell you what you should do. I'm sure you could find some info on your city's website, it'll at the very least give you the info on who to contact about your situation. Hope this helps
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#13 literaphile

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:37 PM

The first thing to do is to go and talk to your neighbour and just tell him the problem. Don't forget, you live next to each other, so you want to avoid formalities at all costs unless you want this to be the beginning of a miserable life.

Despite what others here (most of whom probably aren't in the legal profession) may say, you're not allowed to hack away at the roots and destroy the tree. But, you are allowed to trim the overhanging branches up to the property line.

If the damage to your property is significant enough, this would fall under the tort of nuisance, which is basically the frustration of a person's reasonable use of their property. So if his tree is causing substantial damage to your patio and fence, then, if it comes to that, you can definitely take him to court under nuisance. But, like I said, best to talk to him about it first.
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#14 nux4lyfe

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:39 PM

Plant your own bigger, badder tree and wreak even bigger havoc in his back yard.
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#15 PlayStation

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:49 PM

Nail his wife in the tree house.
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#16 Dittohead

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:52 PM

Chainsaw, Axe
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#17 nux4lyfe

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:55 PM

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#18 Wetcoaster

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 11:47 PM

Any damage caused by the tree roots would normally be actionable under the common law tort (civil wrong) of nuisance.

(I)f your tree roots go under their property and damage their pipes, lawn, or foundation, you may be responsible under the common law principle of “nuisance”. It depends on the facts of the case, but normally, courts will not allow use of a property that causes substantial discomfort to others or damages their property.

http://www.cba.org/b...ousing/400.aspx

Cutting the branches of a tree that cross the property line is a legal self-help remedy called "abatement of nuisance." Generally, you are permitted to prune any branches that are overhanging your property so long as it doesn't damage the tree and the same goes for roots but that can be problematical because excessive root pruning can damage the tree. Also make sure that you know where the property line lies because if you prune or trim beyond your property you would be liable in trespass.

The law in BC - Anderson v. Skender, 1993 CanLII 2772 (BC C.A.) at para 15 reads:

The law of nuisance is clear that an owner of land is entitled to cut branches or roots of a neighbour's trees which extend over the property line: Lemmon v. Webb, [1894] 3 Ch. 1 (C.A.); Butler v. Standard Telephone and Cables Ltd., [1940] 1 K.B. 399; McCombe v. Read, [1955] 2 Q.B. 429; Davey v. Harrow Corporation, [1958] 1 Q.B. 60 (C.A.); Morgan v. Khyatt, [1964] 1 W.L.R. 478 (P.C.).

You may wish to check with your municipality as there may be by-laws that alter the common law. Also many municipalities have tree by-laws prohibiting destruction of a tree even on your own property without a permit such as Vancouver.
http://vancouver.ca/...rees-bylaw.aspx

Here is what the City of Vancouver has to say on this issue as there is no by-law so the common law on abatement of nuisance would apply:


What can I do if my neighbour's tree is overhanging my roof, sundeck, etc.?


The best way to resolve a dispute with your neighbour bout overhanging tree branches or invasive roots is to discuss the situation with them and agree to a solution that serves both parties. Most disputes between neighbours can be resolved easily if both neighbours use common sense and are willing to compromise. There are no by-laws which regulate disputes about trees which are overgrowing a property line and therefore the City of Vancouver cannot intervene on behalf of either neighbour. If you feel that the dispute cannot be settled amicably you may wish to consult a lawyer.


And generally:


In the case of trees that hang over a property, especially if they cause damage, a mess or shade, or if they have roots coming out of the ground ruining a foundation or patio, the homeowner experiencing the problem can take steps to fix or improve the situation. Branches? Cut them off at the property line. Roots? Cut or dig them out on your side. But in both cases, do only as much as is needed to solve your particular problem. Do not go overboard and, for example, kill the entire tree if that is not necessary. If the trees are on your neighbour's property and they have caused damage, then your neighbour may be responsible to you to pay for or fix the damage caused.

http://www.mycanadia...neighbours.html

The first thing you should do is try to negotiate with your neighbour to try to work out an equitable solution such as digging out and cutting back some of the encroaching roots and installing a root barrier. Ultimately your neighbour is responsible for the damge as well as costs of abatement of the nuisance but you may want to work out some sort of cost share as a gesture of good faith.

If all else fails you can bring suit in Small Claims and seek an order for removal of the tree as well as compensation to repair any damage done by the encroaching roots.
http://www.ag.gov.bc...nfo/what_is.htm
http://www.smallclaimsbc.ca/

Before you do anything take pictures and make sure that you document every interaction that you have with your neighbour. My usual advice in this sort of case is initially feel out your neighbour and if there seems to be a solution available. If the neighbour is difficult communicate in writing If you reach an agreement as to how to handle this situation... reduce it to writing. Both parties should sign it.

Edited by Wetcoaster, 10 April 2013 - 11:49 PM.

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#19 playboi19

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 12:48 AM

Tell your neighbour you love the tree, should be gone by breakfast.
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#20 pwnstar

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 01:28 AM

why the heck would you let it go that far, is your name Ned Flanders by any chance?
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#21 TheEhrhoffEffect

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 12:11 PM

Have you even talked to him about it? Might be a good idea to try that first.

Edited by TheEhrhoffEffect, 11 April 2013 - 12:12 PM.

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#22 rampage

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 01:15 PM

If something on his property is effecting your property in a destructive way and he doesn't do anything about it I think you can file a private nuisance against him.

Edited by rampage, 11 April 2013 - 01:15 PM.

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#23 TOMapleLaughs

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 01:25 PM

Chances are he hates the tree too, because it's roots are certainly destroying his property as well. See if he wants to have it dealt with.
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#24 cadillaccts

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 01:37 PM

Any damage caused by the tree roots would normally be actionable under the common law tort (civil wrong) of nuisance.

(I)f your tree roots go under their property and damage their pipes, lawn, or foundation, you may be responsible under the common law principle of “nuisance”. It depends on the facts of the case, but normally, courts will not allow use of a property that causes substantial discomfort to others or damages their property.

http://www.cba.org/b...ousing/400.aspx

Cutting the branches of a tree that cross the property line is a legal self-help remedy called "abatement of nuisance." Generally, you are permitted to prune any branches that are overhanging your property so long as it doesn't damage the tree and the same goes for roots but that can be problematical because excessive root pruning can damage the tree. Also make sure that you know where the property line lies because if you prune or trim beyond your property you would be liable in trespass.

The law in BC - Anderson v. Skender, 1993 CanLII 2772 (BC C.A.) at para 15 reads:

The law of nuisance is clear that an owner of land is entitled to cut branches or roots of a neighbour's trees which extend over the property line: Lemmon v. Webb, [1894] 3 Ch. 1 (C.A.); Butler v. Standard Telephone and Cables Ltd., [1940] 1 K.B. 399; McCombe v. Read, [1955] 2 Q.B. 429; Davey v. Harrow Corporation, [1958] 1 Q.B. 60 (C.A.); Morgan v. Khyatt, [1964] 1 W.L.R. 478 (P.C.).

You may wish to check with your municipality as there may be by-laws that alter the common law. Also many municipalities have tree by-laws prohibiting destruction of a tree even on your own property without a permit such as Vancouver.
http://vancouver.ca/...rees-bylaw.aspx

Here is what the City of Vancouver has to say on this issue as there is no by-law so the common law on abatement of nuisance would apply:


What can I do if my neighbour's tree is overhanging my roof, sundeck, etc.?


The best way to resolve a dispute with your neighbour bout overhanging tree branches or invasive roots is to discuss the situation with them and agree to a solution that serves both parties. Most disputes between neighbours can be resolved easily if both neighbours use common sense and are willing to compromise. There are no by-laws which regulate disputes about trees which are overgrowing a property line and therefore the City of Vancouver cannot intervene on behalf of either neighbour. If you feel that the dispute cannot be settled amicably you may wish to consult a lawyer.


And generally:


In the case of trees that hang over a property, especially if they cause damage, a mess or shade, or if they have roots coming out of the ground ruining a foundation or patio, the homeowner experiencing the problem can take steps to fix or improve the situation. Branches? Cut them off at the property line. Roots? Cut or dig them out on your side. But in both cases, do only as much as is needed to solve your particular problem. Do not go overboard and, for example, kill the entire tree if that is not necessary. If the trees are on your neighbour's property and they have caused damage, then your neighbour may be responsible to you to pay for or fix the damage caused.

http://www.mycanadia...neighbours.html

The first thing you should do is try to negotiate with your neighbour to try to work out an equitable solution such as digging out and cutting back some of the encroaching roots and installing a root barrier. Ultimately your neighbour is responsible for the damge as well as costs of abatement of the nuisance but you may want to work out some sort of cost share as a gesture of good faith.

If all else fails you can bring suit in Small Claims and seek an order for removal of the tree as well as compensation to repair any damage done by the encroaching roots.
http://www.ag.gov.bc...nfo/what_is.htm
http://www.smallclaimsbc.ca/

Before you do anything take pictures and make sure that you document every interaction that you have with your neighbour. My usual advice in this sort of case is initially feel out your neighbour and if there seems to be a solution available. If the neighbour is difficult communicate in writing If you reach an agreement as to how to handle this situation... reduce it to writing. Both parties should sign it.



That's great info. Exactly what I was looking for. I'll definitely be talking to him soon in hopes that we can work something out without going to small claims. But it's good to know that's an option, and that he would likely be held liable for most of the issue if push came to shove.

Thanks Wet and Literaphile! Much appreciated.

Edited by cadillaccts, 11 April 2013 - 01:38 PM.

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#25 cadillaccts

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 02:01 PM

Chances are he hates the tree too, because it's roots are certainly destroying his property as well. See if he wants to have it dealt with.


See that's the tough part. There's about 5 feet of inclined uneven rock/land between his fence and mine. The tree is on the low part near my fence. His fence is elevated above the rock. So he is safe from any damage currently. I actually thought the gap between fences was strata property and or an easement/common land.. But I got my survey papers and measured and its definitely his.

I guess the developer didn't want to landscape and level it, so they moved his fence in about 5 feet. Sucks for him. Prior to measuring I got excited to think that maybe it was my property... I would have been more than willing to remove it in exchange for more land that I could work with.
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#26 Scottish⑦Canuck

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 02:33 PM

Go all Johnny Canuck on that tree.
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#27 HTania

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 02:39 PM

cut all the branches that cross the property line. It is your right to do it.
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#28 The Magician

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 09:50 PM

https://www.youtube....h?v=aLnb4s-M2U8

Edited by Kassinator, 11 April 2013 - 09:51 PM.

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#29 VancouverCanucksRock

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 11:44 PM

Anything on your property you can do whatever you like with it. Dig down and chop off the roots as well as hack off all the branches that overhang onto your property.
Of course, you might want to discuss it first with your neighbour in a nice calm matter, good relations with your neighbour is always a plus.

And then I laugh my ass off when the tree falls on your house durring the next wind storm, because you don't know the full purpose of a trees roots
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#30 Offensive Threat

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 01:02 AM

My parents in Cloverdale had a similar problem with a tree on the neighbors property causing a problem. Not as bad as the OPs as it only was damaging a flower bed. Mom talked to them and as it was on the very edge of the property the neighbors said if we wanted to pay for the work they didnt mind it being removed. Removal involved a person from the city coming out and signing off on the removal and while he was there he said the edge of the tree closest to the road was on city property so it was the cities responsibility. He noted it was damaging the flower bed, got no objection from the neighbor, and a week or so later the Surrey Parks dept guys went out and removed it at no cost.

So I would say go talk to someone at city hall and find out the deal. This wont be first time they have dealt with this.
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