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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33796
Experience:  15 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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My question is about a property line dispute with a

Customer Question

hello, my question is about a property line dispute with a neighbor.
JA: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: A house flipper bought the property next door and had five mature trees that we completely on my side of the property line cut down without my consent. Bloomington, Indiana 47401.
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: they sent me a threatening letter demanding I regrade my property and build a retaining wall within 30 days. I just called the city to find what the ordinances are. They said it is a private civil matter and to just call a lawyer. i don't know how that could be correct, of course I was talking to the Clerk who said there was no one else in the office today. The problem is these neighbors are going ahead with whatever they want right now. The trees were grown alongside my driveway and underneath it, and now that the trees are dead i believe my driveway will collapse. The neighbor says they are going to do me a favor and just shove some dirt underneath it so I can build a retaining wall. I said I didn't think that would work and then got this letter.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: well basically I don't know how to look up the laws. I saw online that this would draw a fine of $500-$2500 for each tree times 3, but the city says they have no idea.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
new neighbors (house flippers) cut down 5 trees fully on my property without my consent. They say it was within their right because they were doing me a favor because they had an expert assess the trees who said they were nearing the end of their life span (but were not actually dead.) The trees were planted when my house was built over 50 years ago and have roots underneath my driveway. Now that the trees have been killed I think the driveway is going to crack and collapse, especially if they pull the stumps and roots out. I complained and now they have sent me a letter demanding that I regrade my property and build a retaining wall within 30 days because they say I am responsible for rainwater rolling from my property into theirs. I don't know where they are getting this info but I just called my City and they said it is a civil matter, call a private lawyer. Bloomington, Indiana 47401
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 month ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney whowill try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply,but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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If the neighbor cut down the trees that are on your property, then that is damaging your personal property and you can hold them liable for the value of the trees. This would be determined by a licensed arborist normally who would give an estimate based on the size and age of the trees. In order to prove that the trees are yours, you would need an updated survey to show that they trespassed on your land and took the trees down.

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As for the wall, unless there is some local ordinance, you can tell them to shove it because you have no duty to take any action to divert the natural flow of any rainwater that has been occurring for many years. If they want a wall, let them build their own.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Aha, thank you! I found something else online that said that the cutter-downers are liable for the value of the tree, x 3, and that the average tree value is $500 to $2500 each for mature healthy trees. The City says they don't know anything about that. Is that a general rule, the value x 3? They cut down 50 year old trees that were screening my property. These cannot be replaced.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Also the subsequent destruction of my driveway. They claim it's already cracked and it's my problem. I think it's going to crack and collapse (in a completely different area) now that the trees were killed without forethought, and now will have to be removed.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 month ago.

Is that a general rule, the value x 3? They cut down 50 year old trees that were screening my property.

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Yes, there is no hard and fast rule regarding the value of trees. The 3X comes into play as punitive damages if this was a malicious and intentional act done strictly to annoy or harass you.. But the judge can also look at the depreciation in the aesthetic value of the property due to the loss of the trees vs. when it had them..

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So basically you get an estimate of the value of the trees and then bump any claim by a couple thousand for the aesthetic loss and let the judge decide.

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As for the driveway, you would have to wait until you actually incurred damages due to them removing the trees and then sue them separately again for those as they aren't readily ascertainable right now.. You can't sue them for what might happen or possible injuries in the future..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Also, what about the tree removal contractor who did this on my property? is he liable as well? The neighbor must have told him that she had my agreement, but that was not true.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 month ago.

He is secondarily liable for trespass, but since he was acting on the direction of the neighbor, they are primarily liable under the doctrine of "respondeat superior" which states that the employer is liable for the actions of his agents.

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thanks

Barrister