It is well established case law in Texas that when a tree’s branches and roots extend over or onto a neighbor’s property, the tree’s owner is invading his neighbor’s land. This violates the absolute right of the neighbor to have exclusive possession and use of his property. Neighbors are responsible for maintaining the limbs and roots of their trees so that they do not become a “nuisance” to adjacent property owners. Therefore, in Texas you have the right to trim the branches or roots of a tree that encroach on your property. However, if you prune the tree and harm it, the tree owner could argue that you were negligent and should be responsible for damages. Pruning the roots and limbs so much that they kill or damage the tree could create liability for damage to your neighbor’s property. Each case is fact specific. The key is to act reasonable.
It is recommended you give the tree owner written notice that the branches or roots extend over your property, request that he prune his tree, and that if he doesn’t by a certain date that you intend to have the branches pruned. If the tree owner takes no action, consider hiring a licensed and insured tree contractor to do the pruning. By hiring a professional, if something goes wrong you can argue that you acted in a reasonable manner. Make sure the contractor does not go onto the tree owner’s property without their permission. If the tree owner fails to act, and you do not want to be responsible for the cost or potential liability of pruning the tree, you might consider a Demand Letter from an attorney. A Demand Letter from an attorney will state the issue (nuisance, trespass, property damage), your legal rights and causes of action and damages (court order, attorney fees) you will seek for the tree owners failure to act. The well-written Demand letter will often motivate the other party to act.
For assistance with this type of issue contact Andrew Bernick at 512-763-5370 or email Andrew@BernickLegal.com.