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Loren, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33102
Experience:  30 years of real estate practice experience.
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I have an elderly neighbor whose two damaged and unhealthy

Customer Question

I have an elderly neighbor whose two damaged and unhealthy trees have been confirmed by an independent consulting, licensed arborist as presenting a hazard to me and my property as well as my neighbor. The only way he would agree to have me hire a professional tree service to take the trees down (costing approximately $1,000 apiece) is if I paid for it at my own expense. The man's daughter, an attorney, was contacted by my neighbor and she contacted a tree service person who was a friend of the family. This person agreed with my consulting arborist that the trees needed to come down. She wrote up a legal letter giving me permission to take them down "at my own expense entirely". I wrote back to her saying that the only reason I offered to pay for it was because there was no one in the family I knew to contact and I was theoretically forced to agree to pay for it myself. The daughter knows that there is a "duty to care" for ones' own property, that her father is at as much risk as I am, and said she would be willing to discuss what she'd be willing to pay for to have the trees removed. I've been thinking a lot about this and believe she is taking avantage of the offer to pay which I had to do otherwise it wouldn't happen. I plan to suggest that the statue requires the homeowner to care for his property and my safety, and that I shouldn't have to pay for the removal of the trees at all. I have already paid $45o for the services of the arborist who make the assessment, wrote a report, spoke to the neighbor's friend who had the tree service, and with me. Is this reasonable for me to not pay more for what is his responsibility (or my neighbors' adult children)? Would this be a case that Small Claims Court would handle if it came to that?
JA: PayPal, Debitcard or credit card are all fine. Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: New Jersey
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: No, not yet. Though I have the Arborist's report which my neighbor's daughter has a copy of.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I can't think of anything else.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Loren replied 8 months ago.

Good evening. I am Loren, a licensed attorney and I look forward to assisting you.

Expert:  Loren replied 8 months ago.

Have you attempted to contact the city or county? Some have ordinances regarding the duty to take down a tree on your property presenting a danger of falling. They will cite the neighbor if they do not take action.

Otherwise, you would need to sue under nuisance theory that the neighbors tree presents a hazard.

Also, since the neighbor knows the tree is in danger of falling they would be liable for your damages, if it did fall, under negligence laws.

Expert:  Loren replied 8 months ago.

Small claims would not order him to cut down the trees, but if they fall and cause damage not exceeding $3000 you can sue in small claims court for reimbursement of your damages.

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