Nov 16, 2020 @ 15:33
Consult Atty Claire: Can neighbor cut our tree’s branches even if they don’t go over his property?
Our neighbor cut off the branches of our tree without informing us even if these branches don’t extend to their property. Our neighbors justified their action by saying that the leaves clog their roof’s gutter.
With some branches gone, our tree can’t keep our house as cool as it used to on sunny days. What’s getting on my nerves was our neighbor’s decision to cut the branches without our knowledge or consent. Can this matter be brought up to the barangay? What’s the best course of action we can take?
Thank you for your time,
I hope your tree is located at least two meters from the line dividing your property from that of your neighbor. The law provides for a specific distance with regards to where a tree should be planted. If the distance is less than that, your neighbor can demand that you uproot the tree.
Article 679 of the Civil Code provides: “No trees shall be planted near a tenement or piece of land belonging to another except at the distance authorized by the ordinances or customs of the place, and, in the absence thereof, at a distance of at least two meters from the dividing line of the estates if tall trees are planted and at a distance of at least fifty centimeters if shrubs or small trees are planted.
Every landowner shall have the right to demand that trees hereafter planted at a shorter distance from his land or tenement be uprooted.”
Assuming that the tree is within the two-meter distance of your property and no branch extends to your neighbor’s premises, there’s no reason for the branches to be cut off. However, if the branches extend to his property, he has the right to demand that you cut them off. If you fail to respond to his request, that is the only time he can cut them off without your permission.
This is explained in Art. 680 which states: “If the branches of any tree should extend over a neighboring estate, tenement, garden or yard, the owner of the latter shall have the right to demand that they be cut off insofar as they may spread over his property, and, if it be the roots of a neighboring tree which should penetrate into the land of another, the latter may cut them off himself within his property.”
If the tree is within your property and doesn’t encroach on your neighbor’s land, you are responsible for maintaining it. Make sure the tree is healthy. It is also your responsibility to clean any fallen leaves or branches that end up in your neighbor’s property.
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