In Texas, there is no statutory law that directly addresses this issue. To avoid liability for a lawsuit, you may want to carefully read the common law and any local rules and regulations. Consulting an attorney is highly recommended if you need advice on how to proceed.
Talking to your neighbor
It’s generally advisable to talk to your neighbor about the issue first. Many people are willing to compromise and would prefer to resolve disputes peacefully without going to court.
If you and your neighbor cannot come to an agreement, you may want to talk to a lawyer before taking further action. For information on finding an attorney, please see the library's Legal Help page.
The right of self-help
In the past, courts have ruled that a person can trim back overhanging branches that cross the property line. The Nolo book Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise explains "the right of self-help" on page 69:
Property owners in every state have the right to cut off branches and roots that stray into their property. In most states, this is the only help provided by the law, even when damage from a tree is substantial. This right to cut away at somebody else’s property is not written down as a state statute or local ordinance. It is a common law right, created by court decisions.
There are limits on what the neighbor can do to address the problem, however. The neighbor cannot:
- trim roots and branches beyond the boundary line;
- injure, kill, or cut down the tree;
- enter the owner’s property without permission unless the branches are an imminent threat.
Even when you have the right to trim the tree, you could be sued for damages if you do it poorly or injure the tree or other property in the process.
Your area may have local ordinances in place that govern the trimming of trees. You may need a permit to trim larger trees or trees of a certain species. Be sure to check your local laws before taking action.
If the tree is dead, diseased, or dangerous, the city may be able to order its removal. Contact your local officials to make a report or to learn more about tree regulation in your area.
If you live in a homeowners’ association (HOA) or a property owners’ association (POA), your association may have restrictive covenants that regulate tree maintenance.
It’s a good idea to review your association’s rules before moving forward. For more information on HOAs and restrictive covenants, see our Property Owners’ Association guide.
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