I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

-Joyce Kilmer

Trees are indeed lovely.  But, a tree on or near a property line can be a bit of a nuisance between neighbors.  As a rule, a homeowner has the right to cut limbs and branches (and even roots) of a tree that is located on his or her neighbor’s property that run over the property line onto his or her property.  There is an important caveat to that rule, though.  The exception is that they can do so as long as cutting it back does not harm or destroy the tree.

If a tree or shrub straddles the property line, either neighbor can prune or trim it back with the same caveat above.  However, neither neighbor can remove or cut down the tree or shrub without the other’s consent.

Another issue arises with unsafe trees.  The rules vary depending on whether the property is in a rural or urban area.  Most of metro Atlanta is considered urban, but some outlying counties are rural.  In a rural area, a property owner is not required to actively determine if trees on his or her property are dangerous and in need of removal.  However, if they are on active notice, they are liable for damage caused by the tree falling.  In an urban area, property owners are held to a duty of reasonable care to ensure the trees on their property are safe and liable for damage caused by the falling of unsafe trees or their parts.

In no case can a neighbor go on to another neighbor’s property without their permission to remove a tree, unsafe or otherwise.