General Question

chelle104's avatar

My neighbor planted trees for spite to block my lakeview. What are my legal rights?

Asked by chelle104 (272 points ) August 2nd, 2010

After years of not getting along with a neighbor, he planted a tree line to block my lake view. The trees are pines that grow quickly and are pointed. My entire view will be blocked in 2 years. I live on an Island, and we all count on a view to enjoy. The neighbor planted 13 trees, 2 feet from my deck on my side of the cottage, where I have 2 large picture windows. I cannot find any ordinances to help me. Can any help me find information on local laws?

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30 Answers

josie's avatar

Not to be shitty, but just to offer a contrary point of view…maybe he just likes pine trees. Why does it have to be about you?

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Seek's avatar

I don’t know the local law in your area, but I worked in permitting here in Florida.

No, you cannot tell your neighbor that he isn’t allowed to plant trees in his own yard. It is his yard – he owns the space above it to whatever height it is that they begin regulated air space. If your lakeview depends on seeing through his property, that’s just tough luck, I’m afraid.

If the trees at some point become a hazard to your property, there will likely be some course of action (for example, in Florida, if your neighbor’s tree hangs over your property, you have the right to cut it back in order to prevent damage in case of a hurricane.).

In your case, I might suggest researching the possible structural danger of your house’s foundation due to root growth. Some pine trees reach far and fast. Then you would speak to a lawyer about what course of action you might take. If you live in a deed-restricted community, you should check with your homeowner’s association to make sure he isn’t violating that contract.

woodcutter's avatar

Looks like you may need to put another level on the house to look over the top. And then there are those dreaded gypsy moths

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I think you are on your own. There is no law in any state that I know of that gives you the “view you had when you bought the house”. @Seek_Kolinahr is spot on.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Was he doing it to afford his family some privacy? Do you have barking dogs or other noise?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I know this sounds crazy, but why not patch things up with your neighbor and talk with them about your concerns?

Nahhh… fuggetaboutit… Get the ninjas.

Austinlad's avatar

It’s done, get past it. I suggest you do nothing to escalate the situation. Life’s too short.

jfos's avatar

I thought that, at least in some states, you had to obtain neighbors’ consent before constructing close to their property or doing something that would affect their view…

doublebogie's avatar

The County may not have any ordinances but there may be developer CC&R’s (covenants, conditions and restrictions) in place. These are common in gated communities and condos but exist in many housing developments. There may be one where he can’t block your view of the lake. I lived in a subdivision where you couldn’t block the view of the golf course with a fence or shrubs. Easy way to check is call a local Real Estate Office. The County will have them on record but you will have to know how to look for them. Good Luck

Aster's avatar

This is so upsetting, isn’t it. Sounds to me like they have all the rights in the world to plant trees on their own property but I’d do what Seek suggested.

mammal's avatar

just cut them down and tell them not to be so pissy.

doublebogie's avatar

If you find that there is a deed restriction stopping them from blocking your view I suggest talking to your neighbor first (try not to be combative or confrontational) or at least write a letter (register it) then if you don’t get anywhere try mediation before you go legal. There are many mediation services especially for real estate problems, at that time you might be able to work out your other differences. They cost alot less then going legal and leave less hard feelings. My wife is a professional mediator and I am always amazed that problems that seem insurmountable are solved. Sometimes in court you can get a judgment but it doesn’t solve the problem. Even if there isn’t a restriction keeping him from doing it mediation still has a great chance of working. Good Luck!

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Talk to the HOA. If it’s blocking your view, that lowers your property value, which then lowers everyone’s property values. They might be able to do something.

Kraigmo's avatar

Paint the side of your house that faces him with polka dots. Or better yet, have an airbrusher make a giant porno mural there.

Also, start planting some very stinky herbs right along the property border.

Jeruba's avatar

How about the case in California where a homeowner installed solar panels and then demanded that his neighbor remove >10-year-old trees that were blocking them? [ Another account. ] This might be an only-in-California story, but every state has some sort of environmental laws in place. Find out what they are in your area. Maybe you can install solar panels.

YARNLADY's avatar

A strong application of Tree Killer on your own property, with lots of water so it will soak into the ground.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
lillycoyote's avatar

@YARNLADY You’re actually suggesting that @chelle104 kill the neighbor’s trees? Wow! I hope you’re just joking. If there’s no law or county code or deed restriction, etc. that prevents the neighbor from planting the trees then that’s that, the neighbor is within his rights to plant the trees; and if the neighbor is in violation of some statute, code or restriction, @chelle104 would still have to go through proper channels. You can’t destroy other people’s property just because it annoys you.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
perspicacious's avatar

Not much recourse unless there are deed restrictions/covenants that address this.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
gorillapaws's avatar

Create a “mercury moat” along the property line. I doubt much will survive next to it, plus it will reflect the light and have a nice shimmery effect. Who doesn’t love mercury?

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
MissA's avatar

@YARNLADY Are you advising poisoning the wells, lake, whatever? It doesn’t sound like you’re kidding…but, who would kid about that!

@gorillapaws Not funny, either. Some folks reading that might actually do it!

lillycoyote's avatar

@MissA That’s what I was kind of thinking too. Let’s solve this problem with a kind of toxic “shock and awe” strategy of “arborcide,” herbicides and other chemicals that will pollute the neighborhood and the watershed for years to come.

gorillapaws's avatar

@MissA mercury is all-natural, so it’s an organic solution.

MissA's avatar

@gorillapaws Sell that one to those who have experienced mercury poisoning!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

If all else fails, a few hours with a chainsaw when he goes on vacation.

wundayatta's avatar

Most likely the best solution to this problem is going to come from social engineering. What was your dispute about? You may have to swallow your pride and tell him you were wrong and apologize.

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