Pruning Your Neighbour’s Tree Branches That Overhang Onto Your Property
The City of Coquitlam does not regulate the trimming of trees on private property as long as the trimming does not violate the City’s Tree Management Bylaw.
Trimming a Neighbour’s Overhanging Branches
Urban Forestry recommends that you discuss this with your neighbour prior to planning any tree work. There are three main points to remember when dealing with trees on adjacent private property:
- You cannot trespass onto your neighbour’s property, even by reaching or hanging over the property line while still standing in your own property.
- You cannot damage your neighbour’s property (in this case a tree)
- You have the right to maintain your property in a safe condition
It is, therefore, best for property owners to come to an agreement between themselves with respect to trees overhanging property lines. This is not something that the City can be involved in. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbour and want to determine your legal rights, you should contact a lawyer. If you choose to prune a neighbouring tree:
- The usual scenario is that you are responsible for the cost of such work and for proper clean-up and disposal of pruning debris.
- You cannot prune incorrectly nor can you prune in such a way to damage the tree, cause the tree to decline or die or cause the tree to become unsafe. Any of these things are a violation of the Tree Management Bylaw and could result in fines from the City and possible legal action from your neighbour.
- All pruning should be done by a professional who is a certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), not by a gardener or a landscaper. Only a certified arborist is qualified to make pruning recommendations and carry out proper pruning.
You cannot top the tree (or any tree in Coquitlam) or raise the crown excessively as this is also a violation of the Tree Management Bylaw.
Safety or Property Damage Concerns About a Tree on a Neighbour’s Property
If you are concerned that a tree on a neighbouring property is putting your property at risk or has the potential to cause property damage, advise the property owner so that they may take the required action to address the situation.
Maintenance of privately owned trees is the responsibility of the property owner and issues regarding neighbouring trees are a matter between neighbours. Discussion and resolution is recommended. This is not something that the City can be involved in. If you are concerned about the safety of the trees you may wish to discuss the hiring of a "qualified tree risk assessor" with your neighbour.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbour and want to determine your legal rights, you should contact a lawyer.