In Washington, Property Owners Owe No Duty Of Care To Protect Neighbor's Trees

Friday, March 30, 2018 3:57 am
April 2018 - Volume 46 Number 4

A landowner had no legal recourse when her neighbor cut the roots of two large trees--killing them--because the neighbor properly “lopped” at the property line.

Facts: Jennifer Mustoe had two large Douglas fir trees on her property in Rainier, Washington. The trees were only 2.5 feet from the adjacent property owned by Xiaoye Ma and Anthony Jordan. In 2013, Ma and Jordan dug a ditch along the property line. To create the ditch, they severed all of the trees’ roots, leaving only three to four feet of roots on the trees’ southern sides. Because the trees now lacked support on one side, they were prone to toppling in the wind and posed a high risk of falling onto Mustoe’s house. The estimated cost of removing the damaged trees was $3,913, and the estimated landscape value of the trees was $16,418.