Q: My neighbor has been cutting my trees. Is it legal to put no trespassing signs facing their backyard? I’m in CA.
I have put a brick wall and a trellis to prevent any foliage to fall into their backyard. However, he has still been cutting our trees within and far beyond our shared fence line. I have put up “Beware of Dog” signs and “No Trespassing” signs on the fence, but he spray painted over them. We do have a dog and we wanted to cover our liabilities. Moreover, we have had to call law enforcement to warn him to stop coming into my yard. What more do I do to avoid any further issues with this neighbor?
A: You could sue for an injunction against his trespasses or for any damages he caused to your trees.
Civil Code section 3346 provides for treble damages for unlawfully cutting down trees, if the trespass was intentional, and double damages if the trespass was unintentional. The California Supreme Court, on February 20, 2020, just issued a decision on this issue. (Scholes v. Lambirth, (2020) 8 Cal.5th 1094).
In Fulle v. Kanani, (2017) 7 Cal.App.5th 1305, a jury awarded $27,500 in damages to trees; $20,000 for repairing the harm and $30,000 for annoyance and emotional distress.
Also, Code of Civil Procedure section 733 also provides for treble damages for "any person who cuts down or carries off any wood or underwood, tree, or timber, ...without lawful authority...."
I litigated a neighborhood dispute in Diamond Bar involving damage to trees and landscaping and claims of trespass, and I would be happy to speak with you.
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