Can we force our neighbours to cut their trees?

Our neighbour has a row of tall cedar trees on their side of the property line. When the trees were smaller, it wasn’t so bad. But they’re growing taller each year, and now they block our light and our view. Can we force them to cut the trees down or top them?



Nelson, BC

Generally, if the trees are entirely on your neighbour’s side of the property line, there isn’t much you can do. You can’t force your neighbour to cut the trees down or to top them. There’s no legal right to sunlight or a view. 

But if the trees have branches or roots that overreach onto your property, that’s different. You could argue that the branches or roots are a nuisance. This is a legal principle meaning that they amount to an unreasonable interference with your right to use and enjoy your property. 

In this situation, you could ask your neighbour to prune the trees’ branches or roots back to the property line. Or you can do this yourself, taking care not to intrude onto their property. (If you cut the branches or dig up the roots past your property line, you’d be trespassing.) 

Another exception is if a tree on your neighbour’s property poses a significant imminent harm to your property. In this case, you can apply to court for an order that your neighbour remove or cut the tree. However, the bar to prove imminent harm is high. You would likely need to get expert evidence from an arborist attesting to the danger.

Check out this guidance on trees and neighbours for more on this point. And for help navigating the conversation, see these tips on talking with your neighbour.

Daniel Sorensen

Daniel Sorensen

Sorensen Smith LLP
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed for legal accuracy in October 2023

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