Calvert Heights, MD asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland

Q: There are trees growing on the property line. The tree's branches have been encroaching toward my deck.

Squirrels have been using the branches to drop onto and and leap from my deck. Extensive chewing of the deck rails requires repairs over $1,000 and is leading to instability of the deck. The base of the trees are on the 10' utility easement and within the 5' HOA easement. I want the trees trimmed back and/or removed. The trees are beyond my property line. Is the HOA responsible for the trimming of the branches or removal of the trees, Baltimore County (utility easement) or am I responsible?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: The way to know your responsibilities as well as your neighbors' and the HOA's is to review the deed, survey, and the HOA Declarations and other documents. Any shortcut of that is unreliable. Generally, however, your deed rises to the FAA overflight limitation and down to the core of the Earth unless the mineral rights have been severed. If the tree is hanging over your property, you can trim the part that is over your property as long as you don't trespass on someone else's property. If your trimming kills the tree, then it will die, though you don't have the right to poison it (your poison would be invading your neighbor's property). You have a responsibility to do your trimming responsibly, so, if the trimming causes the tree to fall on your neighbor's house, you could be liable. If the trees are in the utility easement, there may be cute tricks, like getting the utility to do your dirty work, but that starts with a review of the deed, survey, and HOA rules.

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