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Attorney Neighbor Cuts Tree and Wants Payment Repairs, Maintenance

Discussion in 'Other Residential Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by Neel Andrews, Oct 20, 2020.

  1. Neel Andrews

    Neel Andrews Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    Hello, I am a landlord within the city of Oakland in California. I have recently received a handwritten letter from a neighbor stating that they hired a gardener to trim a tree that is on my property for the portion that is overhanging onto their parcel. They are requesting that I pay the entirety of the gardening without previously discussing this with me or my tenants. The request seems more threatening than a standard neighbor issue as they handwrit the letter on a notepad showing that they are lawyers, including their business card, and their PO box to their law office for the payment to be sent. I researched the individual and have seen that they specialize in civil litigation for real estate. I believe I don’t have a right to pay for this maintenance as they never discussed their discontent previously or discussed a form of remediation. I would also like to note that the trees are clearly not damaging their property. I’m curious where I stand on this issue and what my next steps should be (I’m still deciding whether to respond or not).
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Until and unless you are served with OFFICIAL COURT DOCUMENTS, you are free to ignore demands that solicit you to pay $XXXX for any alleged services you didn't order.

    I wouldn't respond to anyone demanding I pay tribute to her/him/them.

    I'd retain the solicitations, remain silent, and await further developments.

    I NEVER answer or respond to any UNINVITED solicitions from strangers.

    I NEVER ignore any official correspondence from a governmental entity, especially a duly constituted court of law.
     
    shadowbunny likes this.
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    What letter? Surely you don't recall receiving any silly letter.
     
  4. welkin

    welkin Active Member

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    There are two areas of law that most often come up in your situation. The first is that your tree is creating a private nuisance for the neighbor where the branches are damaging his property or they pose an eminent threat to life or property. If that were the case, you would have a duty remediate the problem. Falling leaves or branches (small) is considered a natural occurrence and does not constitute a nuisance.

    The second is that your neighbor has a right to trim any branches that overhang his property as long as it does not kill the tree. They have no right to trespass on your property without your prior consent to do so. In this case, you have no duty to pay for them trimming overhanging branches and an attorney would know that. They can trim the overhanging branches without your consent as long as the tree is not a boundary tree (the trunk straddles the property line).

    I suggest that if they have not yet trimmed the tree, you take pictures to show that the tree is not a private nuisance. Then wait to see what happens.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2020
  5. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    You most certainly do have a right to pay, but I doubt this is what you actually intended to write. I assume what you intended to ask, but didn't actually ask, is whether you have a legal obligation to pay, and the answer to that question is no.

    Walk over to the neighbor's place with a couple cups of coffee and try to discuss the matter like adults. Make sure you tell the neighbor that, in the future, you'll do a better job keeping the shrubbery trimmed so that it doesn't encroach on his/her property.
     

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