Boundary and Property Disputes – Michigan Tree Trimming Laws


Editor’s Note: Our law firm does not handle cases regarding boundary and property disputes. We provide this information on our website because as a law firm, we feel it is important to educate the public as much as we can about state law. For more resources on attorneys who may be able to help you in this area, click here.

There’s a beautiful apple tree in your neighbor’s yard. One of its branches hangs over the fence and shades your property. It leaves not so beautiful rotten apples all over your yard. While boundary disputes that lead to property disputes may be annoying, they’re all-too-common. Bryan Waldman, Michigan personal injury attorney, recently appeared on WLNS 6 Legal Edge to explain the laws surrounding those nuisance neighbors and property or boundary disputes.

Handling Boundary Disputes Legally

Bryan advises everyone to speak with a lawyer when facing property disputes like this. There are some laws and some legal technicalities that are on a case-by-case basis. However, there are a few general Michigan laws that provide some insight into matters like this. Old Michigan case law states that you can trim tree branches that cross over the property line onto your property. However, you cannot trim past the property line onto the neighbor’s side. However, in trimming that branch, you are putting yourself at risk for violating other Michigan laws.

Risks Associated with Settling Tree Trimming

Michigan legislation shows that the value of trees here is high. If you trim the branch that is leaving apples on your property, for example, and that tree ends up dying because of your actions, the owner of that tree can bring a civil claim against you. In addition to filing a civil claim for being responsible for killing their tree, they are entitled to triple the value of the tree. Not only is the responsible party in the property dispute subject to fines, but can also face criminal charges and prison time. In Michigan, it is a crime to maliciously destroy a tree. Penalties for the destruction of an inexpensive tree can result in a one-year prison sentence. A more expensive tree – $1,000 – $20,000 – can land you up to 5 years in prison.

WLNS Legal Edge – Laws & Neighborly Disputes – Trees

 When in doubt, try to settle your property dispute with your neighbor before taking matters into your own hands. Next, go to your city and see if there is an employee who helps settles these types of boundary disputes. Finally, seek legal advice is necessary.