Do you have a neighbor that’s a nuisance? Many do, yet they may be unaware. We’re talking about nuisance trees. Say your neighbor’s tree has limbs over your fence, or the neighboring tree’s roots are damaging your driveway. What can you do about it?

The good news is you do have rights—but they’re limited. You can’t just walk on over to your neighbor’s property and start cutting the offending tree down, or roots back, as that could be trespassing. But California Civil Code 3346 does consider the encroachment of branches or roots onto your property to be a nuisance. You are allowed to trim the tree or roots from a neighboring property that are encroaching onto your land so long as that tree is not destroyed or permanently damaged. If your actions destroy your neighbors’ tree, or even cause substantial damage so that the tree’s value is impacted, you can be held liable for treble damages (three times the actual amount).

picking an Apple Tree

What about the fruit from your neighbor’s tree? This time of year your neighbor’s tree could be bursting with peaches, pears, lemons, and limes—almost falling off of the trees. Almost, being the operative word. If your neighbor has a fruit tree that overhangs your property, the fruit on the tree belongs to that of your neighbor, even if it’s on your side of the fence. Any fruit that has fallen from your neighbor’s tree onto your property is considered the fruits of your labor for picking them up. In other words, they’re all yours.

Case Law regarding trees.

The information contained in this article is educational and intended for informational purposes only. It does not constitute real estate, tax, insurance, or legal advice, nor does it substitute for advice specific to your situation. Always consult an appropriate professional familiar with your scenario.

Drew & Christine Morgan are REALTORS/NOTARY PUBLIC in Belmont, CA. with more than 25 years of experience in helping sellers and buyers in their community. As Diamond recipients, Drew and Christine are ranked in the top 50 RE/MAX agents nationwide and the top 3 in Northern California.  They may be reached at (650) 508.1441 or emailed at

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