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Real estate: Ontario court rules neighbours share maple tree

Neighbours in Ontario can live in peace and harmony for many years -- until one decides to cut down a tree that is shared by both. Real estate issues such as this can lead to costly litigation and, along with ending a friendship, may cost thousands of dollars in legal fees. One such dispute arose between neighbours over a maple tree and ended in a court battle in 2012.

A resident in whose backyard the maple tree was growing obtained an arborist's evaluation and a permit from the city. The resident then proceeded to plan the removal of the tree. However, her neighbours objected, arguing that the tree belonged as much to them as to the woman on whose property the tree was located. It was determined that the roots, trunk and branches all grew across the border of the land, thus making both neighbours owners of the tree.

When the woman who wished to remove the tree took the case to court, she learned that trees growing over property lines are protected under the Ontario Forestry Act. According to the law, a tree that grows on the boundary is the common property of both landowners. If the one neighbour had removed the tree without the consent of the other, she could have ended up in jail or faced a hefty fine.

Property owners in Ontario can come up against a host of real estate issues for which they are unprepared. Each matter is unique, and having tailored legal advice can be invaluable. An experienced real estate lawyer can analyze the situation and provide advice based on the situation and the needs of the property owner.

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