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Bradford Miller Law, PC, Attorneys & Lawyers Real Estate, Chicago, IL
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Is a neighbor's overgrown tree scaring potential buyers away?

Buying a home can be a difficult and complicated process. People don't want to inherit baggage when moving into a new home. That could include needing to deal with an inconsiderate or difficult neighbor. If you have a neighbor who planted a tree on or near the property line, that tree could be a source of future issues. Will it produce fruit or flowers that will drop and cause a mess? Will leaves require regular raking? Buyers are concerned about future expenses, including property damage if a branch comes down on your porch or fence.

Trees can be a point of pride and even add value to a home. However, when a tree's branches or roots encroach on your property, it can cause issues if you want to sell. How can you hope to highlight your yard if it's completely overshadowed by limbs from a neighboring tree? Will buyers be able to visualize themselves enjoying time outside, or will they just move on to a place where they don't have to worry about overgrowth, spitting sap or even leaf drop in their yard?

Determining who owns the tree

Possession or ownership of trees in Illinois is relatively straightforward. The tree belongs to the person who owns the land where it grows. If the trunk is on your neighbor's property, the tree belongs to your neighbor. That doesn't mean you don't have rights when that tree's branches or roots cause issues, such as diminishing the perceived value of your home.

Your first step should be talking with your neighbor. Explain that you are selling your home and that the tree in question is raising concerns among potential buyers. Politely ask your neighbor to trim the tree. Many times, people will consider taking action to help a neighbor and improve property values. If the tree's owner doesn't cooperate, you may need to take additional action.

Understand your rights when it comes to neighboring trees

You have the right to trim back branches and roots that come onto your property. After all, roots can damage pavement in driveways, foundations of houses and even your plumbing. Leaves can cause a mess, while also blocking out the sun and making your yard less useful and inviting. It is important to note that you must exercise great caution when trimming a tree, as you could be held financially accountable if the trimming results in an infection or disease. Mature trees could be worth thousands of dollars.

Working with a professional arborist is your best option, as tree experts understand how much branches and roots can get trimmed back without damaging the tree itself. The limbs and roots can get trimmed to the property line, allowing light in and removing the nuisance presented.

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