Trimming a Neighbor’s Tree

climbingmonkey24

Well-Known Member
Location
Ludlow
When in a situation where a customer asks you to trim branches hanging over their yard from neighbor’s tree, how do you handle it? What if you have to climb the tree? Do you tell them you need written permission or anything before performing the work?

I’m not talking about laws I’m talking about protecting yourself. Even if the laws say they can trim stuff hanging over their property, if you have to climb their tree you are technically on their property.

How big of a deal do you make it? Get written consent? Trust that your client talked to them?
 

owScott

Well-Known Member
Location
Lafayette
Here is my understanding. The property line goes up vertical. You can prune and climb the tree that extends over that line as long as you dont cross the line. The part of the tree that overhangs the property line doesnt belong to the neighbor. Here is the sticking point. If you do any thing to the tree that creates an adverse affect you can be liable. Bottom line for me is I want a verbal or email consent from the neighbor unless its just some simple small cuts from the ground. In cases where my customer wants a significant amount of the tree removed and the neighbor isnt in agreement, I walk away. I would be interested in some other peoples thoughts on this subject.
 

climbingmonkey24

Well-Known Member
Location
Ludlow
Here is my understanding. The property line goes up vertical. You can prune and climb the tree that extends over that line as long as you dont cross the line. The part of the tree that overhangs the property line doesnt belong to the neighbor. Here is the sticking point. If you do any thing to the tree that creates an adverse affect you can be liable. Bottom line for me is I want a verbal or email consent from the neighbor unless its just some simple small cuts from the ground. In cases where my customer wants a significant amount of the tree removed and the neighbor isnt in agreement, I walk away. I would be interested in some other peoples thoughts on this subject.
But here is the problem I think, if you get written or email consent that your client gets from their neighbor how do you actually know the email or written perimission came from the neighbor?

Of course you want to think your clients are honest, but you also have to be prepared that someone could easily fake an email or written consent.

Just my thinking.

What about telling your customer that before you start working, you need the neighbor to come out and give permission to be working in their trees?

That way you are getting permission directly from the neighbor themselves.
 

Finky198

Member
Location
Morris County
I always make it a point to mention during estimates that you must speak to the neighbors about trees that are shared or not yours. Most take care of it, sometimes neighbors even come outside to discuss. Other times I will drop a note with a card, That if they have any questions or concerns please call me... 9/10 it goes smoothly.

I also have a clause in my contact the homeowners give us permission and guarantee all plant materials are theirs or if not that they have discussed the job with the owners and that we shall not be held liable for damages. Due to miscommunication.

In the past ten years I have only walked away on 2 jobs over property disagreements. Both times it was disputes over who should pay...
 

owScott

Well-Known Member
Location
Lafayette
But here is the problem I think, if you get written or email consent that your client gets from their neighbor how do you actually know the email or written perimission came from the neighbor?

Of course you want to think your clients are honest, but you also have to be prepared that someone could easily fake an email or written consent.

Just my thinking.

What about telling your customer that before you start working, you need the neighbor to come out and give permission to be working in their trees?

That way you are getting permission directly from the neighbor themselves.
An email to me from the neighbor or the neighbor tells me directly.
 

*useless info*

Well-Known Member
Location
usa
I try to leave to customer, then confirm okay with other side, possible sale as presenting self well before treespassing in any form, constantly feeling for tension.
Any hint of bad blood, I assume decades old feud and pass.
You can't talk to neighbor of 7yrs , leaving this to you should help you get acquainted then.
Also more stringent on how this could be counter productive action anyway.
 

BooRad

Member
Location
Chatham, NJ
Here is my understanding. The property line goes up vertical. You can prune and climb the tree that extends over that line as long as you dont cross the line. The part of the tree that overhangs the property line doesnt belong to the neighbor. Here is the sticking point. If you do any thing to the tree that creates an adverse affect you can be liable. Bottom line for me is I want a verbal or email consent from the neighbor unless its just some simple small cuts from the ground. In cases where my customer wants a significant amount of the tree removed and the neighbor isnt in agreement, I walk away. I would be interested in some other peoples thoughts on this subject.
Walked away from many. Especially when my lead says "I could care less if this kills the tree, skin it up.". That's when I politely say, "you've got the wrong guy".
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
I tell the clients "You have the right to prune to your property line to the point it is not damaging to the tree. However, i am not interested in being in the middle of a neighborly dispute, so if they aren't agreeable, I'm not interested".

A few weeks ago "Oh, no...she'll never agree to that! But we just need you to prune this and that". (would have been topping cuts to not prune them back to the trunk). Then the neighbor came out in the back yard with the dogs. You could tell there was a coldness between them. I said, "They are asking about pruning a few branches away from their shed. The best thing for the tree would be if those branches are cut back to the trunk. We are looking at taking off these 3". She had no problem with that. I asked "Would you be OK if I accessed the tree (climbing) from your yard and lowered a few pieces down on your side?" No problem. She said "I just didn't want somebody hacking away at the trees!".

If the neighbor was hostile when I talked to her I would have told the clients "no thanks".

Like @Tony said...sometimes knocking on the door is the easiest solution.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
We will prune something overhanging the property on “our” side without speaking to the tree owner first, if we can do it without crossing the property line. We tell our customers they must get permission for us to climb their neighbor’s tree, if that is necessary, and our contract says that the customer has to ensure we have permission to work on the trees, if they don’t get permission and we end up with an unhappy neighbor after us we will walk away, but that’s never happened yet.
 

NeSurfcaster

Member
Location
South Jersey
Yup we politely knock on neighbors door at estimate. If no answer I leave a phone number and ask neighbor to discuss w/ neighbor and have them call me. I prefer face to face but phone call is better then nothin. Around here it's the same rules, safe to cut to property line unless it will harm/kill tree.
 

flushcut

Well-Known Member
Location
Delavan, WI
Get it in writing. And one thing when doing "border war" work no adverse damage must come to the tree. Like pruning an oak out of season and it dies you are on the hook legally. Or making large cuts on poor compartmentalizers, silver maple comes to mind.
 
Last edited:

evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
If we are talking small pole pruner cuts from a ladder I will sometimes do it.
If I had a bucket truck I might go up, but if you have to access the tree by crossing the property line, hell no! Not without personal verbal from the tree owner, or written permission.
 

owScott

Well-Known Member
Location
Lafayette
All good info. Being professional, patient and polite goes a long way. I approach other peoples property the way i would want people to respect my property. Property line trees can get people very heated but most times each individual can be reasonable when approached seperately. Important to listen and acknowledge people concerns and give honest advice based on whats best for the tree. Times when the hostilities go beyound the tree issue I politely bow out.
 

Jzack605

Active Member
Location
Long island
When I bought my new truck the fckin salesman put me on speaker with his friend who wanted to kill the neighbors tree that was overhanging. What a pain in the ass that was, I just told him I’m not going to give you any advice.

what about the client and neighbor sharing the cost of a proper prune with the best interests of the tree?
 

climbingmonkey24

Well-Known Member
Location
Ludlow
Got a bad feeling about this job already that I have.

When I was there during the initial appointment I told the customer they would need to talk to neighbors and they said they didn’t need permission.

I sent them an email tonight explaining we would need permission if we have to climb because the tree is on the neighbor’s property. No response. Tried contacting them over the phone a couple times, no response either. I have no idea the history between these neighbors. What I do know is the feeling I got when talking in person.

But I have a feeling that my client is irritated with me because I’m trying to do the right thing and won’t just cut the branches, and I’m worried about them leaving a bad review or bashing my business because I won’t just do what they want even though it’s WRONG. So now it looks like they’re giving me silent treatment or just cutting me off.
 

climbingmonkey24

Well-Known Member
Location
Ludlow
I’m gonna kick myself in the ass 10x over for why I even submitted a bid on this job, even though it should’ve be an easy fun job if it weren’t for this issue. Not every customer is reasonable though.

:muyenojado:
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
Got a bad feeling about this job already that I have.

When I was there during the initial appointment I told the customer they would need to talk to neighbors and they said they didn’t need permission.

I sent them an email tonight explaining we would need permission if we have to climb because the tree is on the neighbor’s property. No response. Tried contacting them over the phone a couple times, no response either. I have no idea the history between these neighbors. What I do know is the feeling I got when talking in person.

But I have a feeling that my client is irritated with me because I’m trying to do the right thing and won’t just cut the branches, and I’m worried about them leaving a bad review or bashing my business because I won’t just do what they want even though it’s WRONG. So now it looks like they’re giving me silent treatment or just cutting me off.
Don’t worry about the bad review if they do leave one, just write a careful, respectful reply explaining your reasons, and people will generally accept it. One or two bad reviews out of quite a few good ones is actually a good thing - it makes you look real, and not too good to be true. I actually had a customer comment once that they hired us because we had a lot of good reviews, but there were one or two from snarky people there too, and to him that proved we didn’t just load ourselves up with fake reviews.
 

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