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How trees can become a legal matter

When it comes to residential real estate, some Pennsylvania residents and others throughout the United States can be very possessive about their property. They do not want anyone - or anything - to infringe on their space.

Sometimes, a resident might be infringing on their neighbor's property without even noticing it. Trees can often extend from one property to the other, which can spark neighborly arguments, and perhaps eventually, litigation. A Pennsylvania arborist recently spoke to local media about the scenario where tree branches hang over from one property into the other or the roots of a tree travel under ground and move on to a neighbor's property.

While this itself can cause an argument, it is only compounded when a strong storm moves in, knocking loose large tree branches that can fall and cause damage to another person's property.

However, pursuing litigation over such matters in Pennsylvania can lead neighbors into a legal gray area. A judge will rule on a case of this nature based on past legal decisions of similar cases; however, those past decisions vary because each situation varies. Because of this, neighbors that choose to go to court over such issues really cannot know what to expect.

Realistically, hiring a lawyer to fight such a court battle might not be the wisest of financial moves. The legal fees are likely disproportionate to what a person is trying to accomplish in the case.

Some experts suggest that if neighbors find themselves in this position that they act civilly and work out the situation themselves. A compromise could be something as simple as cutting the tree back.

Residential real estate owners have rights as property owners. When those rights are impeded, they can take advantage of the opportunity to bring the case to authorities. If the authorities advise it is a civil matter and no compromise can be made with a neighbor, speaking to a real estate attorney may be the next step.

Source: PennLive.com ,"What to do when trees go delinquent on your neighbor's lawn," George Weigel, April 5, 2013

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