Sometimes the branches or roots of a tree on a neighbour’s land may extend onto your land, seriously compromising your use of your property. In this case, you can ask your neighbour to cut back the branches or roots.
Similarly, if one of your neighbour’s trees looks like it may fall onto your land,you can ask your neighbour to cut it down or shore it up.
If your neighbour refuses either request, you may send a formal notice asking him or her to remedy the situation.
If your neighbour still refuses to act, you should consult a lawyer as quickly as possible. He or she will help you to obtain an injunction compelling the neighbour to remedy the situation.
In every case, you should not cut branches or roots, or cut down or shore up a tree, without permission from its owner. If you do so, the owner could claim damages and compensation from you.
When planting trees on your property, you should avoid placing them where their branches or roots may damage electrical or telephone lines or underground cables or pipes. You should also plant them at some distance from the dividing line between your property and your neighbour’s, so that they do not become a nuisance to your neighbour when they have grown to their full height.
Generally speaking, you are liable for your trees and for any damage caused by their branches and roots, unless you can prove that the damage was caused by an unforeseeable event (superior force), such as violent winds that blow down the tree or its branches.
If you would like more information, you should begin by contacting your municipality, which may have by-laws governing trees. You may also consult a legal advisor.