OK, so my friend's yard shares a tree with her neighbor's yard that they've been fighting over lately.

She wants to cut the tree down because it's overgrown, and her neighbor wants to keep the tree up. Naturally, the tree is still up and at the two are at a standstill.

So in this situation, it made me wonder, who actually gets the final say over whether or not the tree gets cut down or the part of the tree branching over onto her yard gets cut down?

A quick search on the subject reveals that, according to findlaw.com, ownership of a tree is based on the location of the tree's trunk. When the trunk is entirely on your neighbor's property, you cannot significantly alter the tree without their permission.

Makes sense, but let's focus on Maine because there may be some different rules per state, right?

Well, long story short, according to Maine.gov, the law basically states that whoever's lawn the trunk of the tree is on, that's who technically owns the whole tree. So if the tree's limbs are branching out into another person's property, the original owner of the trunk still has the say over cutting the tree or not.

So you can't just go cutting the tree or a branch down because you feel like it.

Here's the exact wording from maine.gov when it comes to unlawful cutting:

"Any person who in fact cuts down or fells any tree without the consent of the owner of the property on which the tree stands commits a civil violation for which the forfeitures provided in this section may be adjudged"

So basically you need to first work things out with the owner of said tree and come to some agreement in order to make it happen. If that owner doesn't agree, then you're out of luck. Sorry.

All of this being said, be aware that there are some exemptions to the cutting of a tree, according to Maine.gov, where say the Department of Transportation, Public Utilities, or municipal employees may have to come cut down the tree/parts of the tree in certain emergency circumstances.

You can check out the full legal write-up on unlawful cutting here.

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