Q: My neighbor has a fruit tree on her side of the fence, but a large branch hangs over my property. The fruit falls from the tree onto my lawn and attracts pests. I have asked her repeatedly to cut the branch, but she refuses. What can I do?

A: You can cut the branch that hangs over your property line, but you will need to pay for the trimming and cleanup.

If you damage the tree, you will be responsible for either bringing it back to health or replacing it, and some trees can be expensive.

Before you trim the branch, let your neighbor know in writing and give her a chance to do it herself. While this is not a legal requirement, good documentation will come in handy if this becomes a larger issue. If she does not fix the problem, then carefully trim the tree.

Tree roots that encroach onto your property also can be trimmed, but you should consult a tree specialist because of the danger of damage to the tree.

If you are concerned about a neighbor's tree hitting your house, put the neighbor on written notice and reach out to the local government. The municipality may order the dangerous condition fixed, fine the neighbor to gain compliance or possibly remove the tree if the owner does not. If none of this works, you may have to file a lawsuit against the neighbor.

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program. Send him questions online at http://sunsent.nl/mR20t7 or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.
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