I own a duplex. Developer bought next door lot and is bldg new units/condos. We share a 40 ft stone pine tree - a/l 45 years old. Trunk & roots are huge and extend on both sides. Developer asked for consent to remove tree at his expense. He got quote from arborist and tree removal comp. They say the roots will decompose over yrs. I worry about consequence/damage to my bldg, plumbing, etc.
1. Can I say NO all together?
2. I think I should get my own expert to evaluate the risk to my property. Can I ask them to pay for it and I choose the expert?
3. If I agree, how do I protect future damage? Can I ask for an agmt that requires them to assume liability?
I am helping out if I agree otherwise they must modify plans. Can I make it conditional - request replacement of tree/flowers etc.
In general, they cannot come onto your property without your permission. That said if they remove the half on their property then the half on your property will die and you will be responsible for removing it. I would let them take out the tree, pay for everything, you can negotiate with them to replanting some ground cover, as well as their agreement to repair any damage to your building or pipes they may cause by removing the tree. If you want to get another report you'll have to pay for it. .
The foregoing is for informational purposes only and may not be relied on as attorney-client advice.
These are things that you can negotiate with your neighbor. The tree removal company should be licensed and can include you on their liability insurance for any damages.
The law in California is that a tree that sits on the property line belongs to both property owners and someone who cuts down, removes or damages a tree without permission owes the tree’s owner money to compensate the owner for damage done to the tree unless the tree presents an immediate danger in which case it can be removed without liability.
Someone who intentionally and maliciously damages or cuts down a tree can be subject to criminal penalties as well including possible jail time.
First, try the neighborly approach and see why the neighbor wants to remove the tree. Can his/her issue be resolved by trimming the tree instead? If you can’t reach an agreement with the neighbor on your own, consider mediation to see if you can find some common ground to forge an agreement regarding the tree.
If the neighborly approach doesn’t work and you don’t want the removed, get a lawyer and have the lawyer write a warning letter warning the neighbor that if the tree is damaged or removed the neighbor will be liable for damages and possible criminal charges.
To answer your specific questions:
1. Yes, you can say no altogether.
2. Yes, you can ask them to pay for your expert since you don’t have to say yes and if they want you to consider saying yes, you can ask them to pay for your expert so you can have all of the facts to reconsider your initial answer;
3. Yes, you can and should ask for an indemnity and hold harmless agreement, but remember, an indemnity and hold harmless agreement is only as good as the person standing behind it; and
4. Yes, you can place whatever restrictions you want on your agreement to allow removal of the tree.
Take the high road, remain a good neighbor no matter what and good luck.
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