New Jersey common law allows a property owner to trim the overhanging branches of a neighbor’s tree if they constitute a nuisance. However, the property owner must exercise due care when doing so. If the property owner does not, he or she could be forced to pay money to the neighbor if the actions taken result in damage to the neighbor’s property or tree. In fact, if the owner knowingly or recklessly damages a neighbor’s tree when trimming the branches, he or she could commit a crime of the third degree. Consequently, before a property owner takes it upon him or herself to trim the overhanging branches, he or she should speak with the neighbor to see if the matter can be resolved.—Michael S. Selvaggi, Esq., Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen, P.C.
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