Arborisist have discouraged cutting the roots stating that the beautiful redwoods will likely fall on our house if the amount of roots are cut that are required. Many conversations with the land owner, no solution.the trees are within 20 feet of our bedroom.Dangerouse for us, can we force them to cut the trees down?
You should obtain a written statement from your arborist confirming that the tree roots from your neighbor's trees are the cause of the cracking of your driveway and potential threat to your foundation. You should then obtain a written estimate from a licensed contractor as to the cost of demolition of your existing cracked driveway, and the cost of replacing it with a new driveway. The contractor's bid should also include the cost of repairing and replacing your foundation when the tree roots reach the foundation of your home. You should also take photographs and videos of your damaged driveway and several photos taken from an angle that show both your damaged driveway and the trees on your neighbor's property that are causing the damage. You should also obtain a written estimate from a tree service for removal of the trees causing the damage.
I would then schedule a meeting with your neighbors and present the arborist's statement, the contractor's bid, and the photos of the problem. Present a demand letter that they pay for all required corrective work.
As long as the trees remain, this will become a re-occurring problem that they will be liable for in the future when their trees destroy your new replacement driveway, and again threaten your foundation.
You can sue for up to $10,000 in Small Claims Court, and if your damages exceed $10,000 I would recommend that you hire an attorney to file a lawsuit in Superior Court.
Maurice A. Priest
Real Estate Attorney
I agree with Mr. Priest, and offer the following. There are arborist mediators in Northern California who help neighbors peacefully work out these difficult situations, including an attorney named Barri Barrington whose practice is devoted to tree law.
There's no question about your neighbor's liability, or whether your safety comes ahead of tree conservation. But handling things with sensitivity will hopefully resolve the problem without damaging relations permanently.
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