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Neighbor Trespassed on Property and Cut Tree Limb

Neighbor Trespassed on Property and Cut Tree Limb


  #1  
Old 08-27-12, 10:53 AM
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Neighbor Trespassed on Property and Cut Tree Limb

My next door neighbor trespassed onto my property and cut a major branch off one of my trees at the trunk. The branch was healthy. This was done without my permission or consent. As you can see from the photos,
the tree was clearly cut on my front lawn, to cut the tree at the trunk, they would have to be on my property. This was not a slight "trim"
by any means. This healthy branch primarily extended out in to the street
where it was intended to disguise the overhead wires. The electric company
comes out once a year to trim branches and this branch was appropriately trimmed by them if necessary.


I am thinking that a cease a desist letter may be an appropriate course of action, and I am exploring that possibility now. I want to be a good neighbor, but I simply can't ignore acts of trespass without consent that are completely lacking in civility and a lack of reasonable respect.


I live next door these people and try to get along, but I won't have my rights violated in the interim.


My questions:


1. Is the way the tree was cut likely to cause irrepairable harm to the tree?


2. What action do you think I should take? a.) nothing b.) have lawyer send cease and desist letter or c.) file a civil complaint for trespass and seek compensatory damages (I could handle a civil complaint on my own, so it would not cost me too much time or money).


Thank you for your insight.
 
  #2  
Old 08-27-12, 10:55 AM
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Have you talked to the neighbor about it yet?
 
  #3  
Old 08-27-12, 11:07 AM
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Well from what I know in NJ you need to have a no treaspass sign on your property. Do you have one displayed?

I will try to find the rule on that. I read that last week in my local code.

Also a neighbor is allowed to cut down limbs if it overhangs on thier property from my understanding.

Also are you sure it was the neighbor and not the poco?

The tree company should be held responsible also IMO and possibly not all on the neighbor. And as mitch stated did you even talk to the neighbor?
 
  #4  
Old 08-27-12, 11:27 AM
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Was the branch that was cut, crossing onto the neighbors property?
Was that mess left in your driveway or the neighbors?

I had to deal with something similar but I was the neghbor with the saw. The neighbor's pine tree had a lot of branches that extended over the property line and part way across my front lawn.
Unable to contact the owner (it was a rental, and the property management company wasn't going to deal with it or contact the owner for me), I cut the branches at the fence line (property line).
 
  #5  
Old 08-27-12, 11:28 AM
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Mike....I think they are allowed to cut only the part of a limb that overhangs....not the whole thing back to the trunk. And if they over trim or do it wrong and the tree dies...you can sue.

Common law I think.....

Here's something that says the same my neighbors has trees whose branches hang over the fense onto - JustAnswer

Dunno about the trespass issue.
 
  #6  
Old 08-27-12, 11:56 AM
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Hello:

Yes. I spoke to the neighbor about it yesterday. I explained why I was so upset. He offered no explanation for his action. When I asked why he didn't talk to me first, or ask permission, he said he works five days a week and I was not home when he decided to do this. I told him that I was home most of the weekend and this is an action important enough to warrant a conversation before proceeding. I told him that I was considering my legal recourse.

The tree branch grew exclusively, or at least primarily, out in the direction off the street. I can understand a pruning if the branch hung over onto their property. The branch remains were located on their property.
 
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Old 08-27-12, 12:09 PM
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I am positive the neighbor did it- the adult son admitted to doing it.
 
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Old 08-27-12, 12:16 PM
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Does the neighbor like to park their car in the street and the branch was in the way? Was it blocking their view to pull out of the driveway? I'm trying to guess at a possible reason.
 
  #9  
Old 08-27-12, 12:17 PM
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Well....you have 2 choices IMO. Send the letter and ignore him from now on.

Or do nothing and just live with it unless the tree dies or becomes diseased due to the poor cut. If this was done by a company...document everything and there might be some sort of "standards of workmanship" that could come in to play.

You can't prove trespass...though to the common sense person...it's pretty obvious.

Personally....I would be extremely PO'd and I won't be a good neighbor when it's not reciprocated.
What person in their right mind would do what he did? BS on the working 5 days a week...don't most people? Ever heard of a note on the door? A phone call?
 
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Old 08-27-12, 12:21 PM
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As Vic stated, he should have made the effort to contact before touching it.

Even trimming back what is crossing your yard should be talked about with the neighbor. What I had to do to my neighbor's tree make it look bad, but I had tried every effort to contact short of looking up the share holders name of the numbered company that owned the house next door.
 
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Old 08-27-12, 12:32 PM
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I believe the tree branch was high enough to not interfere with a car parked in the street. The adult son parks his work minivan out on the street there. If there was a STRONG wind storm I think I would see him park the minivan across the street. But the branch was strong and healthy and trimmed as necessary by the electric company. They have two non-operating vehicles parked in their driveway, one is up on ramps.
 
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Old 08-27-12, 12:35 PM
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Vic is right, they're only allowed to cut what's overhanging on their property. No one is allowed to come on your property and do that. I don't think you need a "no trespassing" sign, that would only be if you have acres and acres of ground, so that people would know that someone owns that property. I can't imagine that would apply to someone's front lawn. Otherwise, anyone can come on your lawn and in your house and do whatever they want.
I remember watching one of those court shows, and the same thing happened to someone and the judge ruled against the neighbor who did the cutting.
 
  #13  
Old 08-27-12, 04:54 PM
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My concern is the time of year. It is a deciduous (sp) tree and could bleed to death if that cut isn't properly taken care of. Trees should be trimmed in the dead of winter to allow time for healing. That's a nasty cut.
 
  #14  
Old 08-28-12, 04:42 AM
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You have been damaged. Since your neighbor seems to be a tool I would sue the guy in small claims court. Hire an arborist to assess the damage and to do what needs to be done to protect the tree. Make his fees part of the suit. Sometimes you need to make a point about property and trespass.


I wonder what exposure you would have if the guy got seeriously hurt cutting a tree on your property.
 
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Old 08-28-12, 05:11 AM
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"I wonder what exposure you would have if the guy got seeriously hurt cutting a tree on your property."

I'm sure the OP would have been liable.
 
  #16  
Old 08-30-12, 04:21 PM
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Ok, I decided to file a police incident report. I went to the police station because I did not want a patrol car in front of the house. The township police officer was not very friendly, nice or helpful. He was discouraging me from filing a report. I continued to make it clear that I wanted a report written and maintained calm and reasonable throughout the process.


He asked- What's really going on between you and your neighbor? I tried to stick to the facts of this incident, and not go through the laundry list of inappropriate behavior that they have engaged in.


He finally conceded and said that he would put together a short incident report, a couple of sentences. I asked the officer to include the fact that the neighbor admitted to the wrongdoing. I asked if I could give him photos to include in the report, he said no, because he did not take them, but that I could add them to the report myself when it was completed and filed.


I told him that I did not want to pursue criminal charges at this time. I said that I did not want to start WWIII with my neighbors but I did want to create a record in the event that there is an escalation of tension between us in the future or if the damaged tree causes damage to other property or people in the future. He said that there is a one-year statute of limitations for me to sign a criminal complaint on trespass and vandalism. He opined that there may not be a viable criminal charge on trespass because of a New Jersey statute that addresses notice. I attached the statute below. Regardless, I could pursue the trespass civilly.


I also contacted my homeowner's property insurance carrier to find out if I need to report the matter with them. I do not want to be held liable for any future damage that might be caused if the tree was damaged by the cutting. I am supposed to hear back from the homeowner's property insurance carrier in the next couple of days.


I am glad I waited a few days before I pursued this matter further, because I was so angry after it initially happened. I am still angry, but I can address the issue in a controlled manner.




NJSA 2C:18-3. a. Unlicensed entry of structures. A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or surreptitiously remains in any research facility, structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof. An offense under this subsection is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in a school or on school property. The offense is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in a dwelling. An offense under this section is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in a research facility, power generation facility, waste treatment facility, public sewage facility, water treatment facility, public water facility, nuclear electric generating plant or any facility which stores, generates or handles any hazardous chemical or chemical compounds. Otherwise it is a disorderly persons offense.
b. Defiant trespasser. A person commits a petty disorderly persons offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:
(1) Actual communication to the actor; or
(2) Posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders; or
(3) Fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders.
c. Peering into windows or other openings of dwelling places. A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he peers into a window or other opening of a dwelling or other structure adapted for overnight accommodation for the purpose of invading the privacy of another person and under circumstances in which a reasonable person in the dwelling or other structure would not expect to be observed.
d. Defenses. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that:
(1) A structure involved in an offense under subsection a. was abandoned;
(2) The structure was at the time open to members of the public and the actor complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining in the structure; or
(3) The actor reasonably believed that the owner of the structure, or other person empowered to license access thereto, would have licensed him to enter or remain, or, in the case of subsection c. of this section, to peer.
Amended 1980, c.112, s.3; 1994, c.90; 1995, c.20, s.4; 1997, c.15; 2005, c.100.
 
  #17  
Old 08-30-12, 05:52 PM
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Don't go looking at statutes unless you are a lawyer. You may think they say one thing...but rulings may be different.

As someone said...looks like that says signs are required unless you have proof you told them to stay off your property in the past.
 
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Old 08-30-12, 05:55 PM
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Nice to live in the southern sticks We take care of our own trespassers. Our signage indicates "Trespassers will be shot.....Survivors will be prosecuted". Not a reality thing, but you get the point.
 
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Old 08-30-12, 06:01 PM
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Hi Gunguy45:

I am a lawyer, I don't practice in this area. I work in the compliance field. I was a litigator years ago though. My neighbors know this, so I think it worries them some (but not enough to not engage in such unreasonable behavior!).

I did also consult with a lawyer about this issue. He thought I should stay calm about the tree branch issue and focus on a possible land encroachment issue along the property line. The neighbors may be (surprisingly ha ha) exceeding their property line.
 

Last edited by user987; 08-30-12 at 06:24 PM.
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Old 08-30-12, 06:11 PM
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Yes I am familiar with the signage issue in NJ that's why I brought it up in the previous post. If you did not have it, its in my opinion you will lose in NJ court.

To counter act you need to hit him with everything you got. Also the tree cutting service.

Thats just me. I would file all I can.
 
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Old 08-30-12, 06:44 PM
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Our signage indicates "Trespassers will be shot.....Survivors will be prosecuted".
Up here it reads, "Survivors will be shot again!"

All kidding aside, what with the (in my opinion, stupid) NJ requirements for a no trespassing sign I would forget about pursuing any charge of trespass. I would go after willful destruction of private property with a vengeance.

Definitely get a written report from a certified arborist as to any lasting damage to the tree.
 
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Old 08-31-12, 06:39 AM
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That is a strange, stupid and senseless law. So anyone can come into someone's house also, if there's no sign on the lawn? Does that mean they are they allowed to come on your property and do whatever they want?

Thankfully, that's not required where I live. No wonder I don't live in Jersey, lol, but know lots of people that do.
 
 

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