What happens when your tree damages your neighbor in some way? Does your property have a tree that has roots encroaching onto your neighbor’s property? Perhaps causing damage to the foundation of their house and/or their roof? Are your tree leaves causing the neighbors pet Afghan hound to contract severe allergies? Or are your tree branches creating so much shade that your neighbor can not plant anything? Let’s get to the root of these issues to determine who is responsible for the damage caused by your tree.
Florida courts have continuously held that a property owner is not liable to an adjoining property owner for damage caused by trees encroaching on the neighbor’s property. Vaughn v. Segal, 707 So. 2d 951 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1998); Gallo v. Heller 512 So 2d 215 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987) Richmond v General Engg Enters Co., 454 So. 2d 16; (Fla. 3d DCA 1984).Virginia T. Scott v. Julie L. McCarty. So. 3d 989; (Fla. 4th DCA 2010)
Regarding tree damages, In 2010, the 4th DCA reasserted that the Gallo view is the predominant view in the country and is followed by Florida courts. The Gallo holding is based upon the common law and Second Restatement of Torts which holds that: [A] possessor of land is not liable to persons outside the land for a nuisance resulting from trees and natural vegetation growing on the land. The adjoining property owner to such a nuisance, however, is privileged to trim back, at the adjoining owner’s own expense, any encroaching tree roots or branches and other vegetation which has grown onto his property. The rational behind this well established law is that the courts want the neighbor to provide self help instead of clogging the courts. So if your tree has become a nuisance and your neighbor is now “barking” at you – you can legally tell him to “leaf” you alone.
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