What's the law?
Owner should pay to cut hazardous trees
My neighbors planted trees on their property to define the property line between us years ago. The problem is, those trees are now hanging way over onto my property and touching the electrical wires in our yard.
The home is rented and my property manager contacted us to say we need to cut those trees back. We were told by the property management that they will not get involved in the situation between neighbors and said we need to talk to our neighbors, which we did, but they are unwilling to do anything. My husband cut back the trees to the property line, which left huge piles of debris; we couldn't even throw it back in their yard as the branches were so thick at the bottom nothing would go through. We have cut these trees back twice. The first time we had to rent a truck at $85 a day, make three trips to the dump, which is 15 miles away, and pay for gas (this is on a neighbor island), not to mention we had to cut it into 4-foot pieces or they would not take it. On the second occasion, we had to cut back trees again because of electrical wires and overhang.
We had to pay someone to haul off the debris, which cost several hundred dollars, not to mention we had to pay for plane fare from Oahu to Kona, then drive to Waimea. What recourse do we have?
Answer: From the managing attorney of Legal Aid's housing unit: Overhanging branches are a nuisance only when they actually cause, or there is imminent danger of them causing, harm to property. Because you say the branches endanger the power line, your property seems to fall in this category. As the property owner, you can require the owner of the tree to pay for any damages and to cut back endangering branches. If the tree trimming is not done within a reasonable time after a request, you may cut the tree branches yourself and charge the tree owner. You would need to present your receipts in small claims court. The judge would have to agree with you that the limbs could cause imminent danger to the power line.
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