If you cringe each time the wind blows, for fear an errant branch may crash through your roof or window, it may be time to investigate tree removal services. However, if the tree at issue isn't located on your property, but on a neighbor's, this problem can become more complex. Is there any way you can require your neighbor to pay to remove a problem tree, or must you simply live with it until this tree causes damage to your property? Read on to learn more about how this situation is governed under state law. 

When can you require the removal of trees not on your property?

Most state laws grant you control of anything hanging over your property line. This means that not only are you allowed to trim back branches of a neighbor's tree that encroach onto your property, you're also allowed to collect and keep (or sell) any fruit or nuts that drop from the tree onto your property, even if the branches don't necessarily hang over your property line.

However, your control over the tree itself is much more limited. If you believe a tree poses a falling risk to your house, or you've already sustained damage to a fence, shed, or other outdoor structure, you may want to sue your neighbor in small claims court to force the removal of the tree. You'll need to demonstrate that the tree poses a clear danger to your property and that the only responsible thing for your neighbor to do is to take care of the problem. If a tree isn't at risk of hitting your home or causing other damage, it's unlikely a judge will force its removal.

Is there anything you can do to encourage your neighbor to remove a problem tree? 

Taking your neighbor to court can be a scorched-earth remedy and neighborhood tensions may run high for years after the event. If you'd like a tree gone but don't want to go the legal route, you may be able to enlist your city's code enforcement agency or your utility company. It's likely that if a tree is dead and dangerous enough to pose a threat to your property, it's also encroaching on utility lines or creating an eyesore -- both of which may require its removal. Quietly informing one of these agencies about your problem could help solve it while keeping you above the fray.

For more information on tree removal, contact a professional like Pete & Ron's Tree Service.