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Homeowner seeks advice after receiving letter from neighbor threatening legal action over trees: 'Morally and legally you are in the right'

"I would fight to protect those trees."

"I would fight to protect those trees."

Photo Credit: iStock

Most people enjoy the sight of a healthy, flourishing tree — but when a person doesn't, they tend to make it someone else's problem.

One homeowner posted in the subreddit r/TreeLaw, frustrated and asking for advice after receiving a note from their neighbor threatening legal action. "Neighbor is trying to get me to cut down trees, which the arborist [said] are healthy," they wrote. "I want to respond to his letter firm, but don't want war with the neighbor."

They explained that three large trees on their property have overhanging branches that extend onto the neighbor's property, which the neighbor claimed in an aggressive letter were causing damage to his sheds. However, they wrote, "There's no damage from the images he sent, and the branches he's talking about … would cost me an arm and a leg [to prune]."

OP contacted an arborist, who concluded that the trees were healthy and not posing any threat. He also added that "the trees overhanging [the neighbor's] yard are his problem according to [Virginia] law."

Arguments over trees are a tale as old as time; there are countless examples on Reddit and beyond of people illegally cutting down their neighbor's trees. Most commenters suggested ignoring the issue, as the letter seemed to come directly from the neighbor himself and not from a law firm.

"Mail him that certified letter that the arborist has said the trees are healthy. And then tell him to pound sand," one person said. "Morally and legally you are in the right."

Another commenter also pointed out the importance of keeping the trees alive — not just for the sake of OP's wallet, but for the sake of the entire ecosystem.

"I would fight to protect those trees," they wrote. "We have lost many green canopies all over. Maybe [write] a letter explaining the reality of earth and how important your [tree's] existence is."

It's true: Trees offer priceless benefits to their local ecosystem and the planet. They act as natural air filters; they improve biodiversity; they serve as wind shields; they sequester harmful air pollutants; they reduce flood risks; and they even improve mental health.

"Thank you all," OP concluded. "I'll post an update of the resolution!" The OP did later provide that update, saying he wrote a letter to the neighbor citing the arborist's report and Virginia law, putting the responsibility to undertake any further trimming on the neighbor.

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