Neighbor cut down trees on my property, what are my rights?

Asked over 1 year ago - Renton, WA

On Saturday 5/25/2013 our neighbor cut down several beautiful lilac trees that are questionable of who’s property they are on.
These trees gave us privacy and made the side of our house look presentable. Now there is a big hole and our dogs can get into his property with no restrictions.
We were never consulted about the trees being cut down. Came home from a long day being with family and noticed around 9:30pm that he had done this.
I have pictures of all the cut trees that were left on his property and all of them were healthy trees.

I am in distress every time I look over at the big hole that divided the two properties. I would like to request for to get proof of his property line before he cuts any more trees that will impact our privacy.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Katie Jean Comstock

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with my colleagues. RCW 64.12.030 makes it unlawful to go onto another person's property and remove trees. RCW 64.12.030 also provides that where the trespass is willful the trespasser will be liable for treble damages. The first and most important step is to commission a survey. To save cost you can ask first that the boundary line be staked but not mapped to have a visual idea of where the true boundary line lies. The second step is to have an Arborist estimate your damages. Then, I recommend hiring an attorney to help you recover your damages.

  2. L. Maxwell Taylor

    Contributor Level 20

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I suspect if the trees were on his property he has the right to remove them, and if they were on your property you may have statutory remedies assuming your state has a timber trespass statute. But since you are the one claiming he did something wwrong, it would seem to behoove you to establish that neighbor is doing these things on your land. So engage a surveyor to establish the property line, if it's not clearly marked.

    Not legal advice, just my two cents. I don't practice law in Washington or hold Washington licensure. Consult Washington counsel if you need legal advice. I practice in Vermont ONLY.

  3. George O. Tamblyn

    Pro

    Contributor Level 9

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If it is clear that the trees were on your property, you can sue the neighbor for trespass and seek damages for the value of the trees. You should get an estimate of the cost of replacing them and have a lawyer write a demand letter to the neighbor. You could also file a claim in Small Claims Court for the damage (be sure you can establish property line) up to $5000 without using an attorney.

  4. Shawn B Alexander

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with both previous answers and the first step is to find the property line. If the survey and yes you may need a survey show the trees were your or on the line. Call a lawyer ASAP if the trees were on the neighbors property get the fence up to protect your dogs, you may have a claim if the holes were on your side. Timber trespass law is well estabilished here in Washington and a real estate lawyer will need all the facts to help you.
    Good Luck

    Only If and until you and I sign an Agreement for Legal Services, I am not your attorney. These answers are... more

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