What are my rights if a neighbor cut trees out of our soon to be house without permission?

Asked by Nathan Smith, 28216 Tue Aug 25, 2009

We were in the area of our soon to be house and decided to drive by. When we got there we noticed five trees had been cut out of the front yard. One of the trees was a mature tree that provided shade for the house and front porch. I talked to my agent and she found out from the selling agent that a neighbor said he went over and did some "pruning". Pruning doesn't involve a chainsaw. What are my rights here since the house technically isn't mine yet but it is under contract and we are suppose to close in a few days?

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gabriel palo…, Agent, Pompano Beach, FL
Thu Sep 30, 2010
Dear Nathan,

What a bizarre story. I could only match this with a similar incident that happened with me. Just before the closing some of the plants to my new house have been removed by the previous owners. What was I to do?
They did not even deny it . So I considered my alternatives and made the right choice. I closed on it.
Five years later the house was worth double .

Well in your case , the neighbor has some explanation to do and hope of compensating you for the replacement.
Most mature trees are protected by the cities and a permits are required to be removed. I would check and see if they complied. The only legitimate excuse for removal or serious pruning would be if it endangered the roof of the adjoining property or hazardous to the electrical wires. So you do have a legitimate reason to have an explanation but not serious claim not to go forward with the sale. It would be sad to start a war with a neighbor before you move in. Contacting an attorney is always a choice but in this case that would be my last resort. Reasonable people can find solutions and this bizarre tale may be resolved in a friendly manor.
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Ken Patterson, Agent, Rocklin, CA
Wed Sep 29, 2010
You might consider canceling your contract. The previous answers are good ones and should shed light on your situation. Neighbors usually do not just go chopping down mature trees in someones yard without permission. Sounds a little off to me...
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Mike Carpino, Agent, Huntersville, NC
Tue Oct 13, 2009
I would work through your agent to have contact either an attorney or the seller agent. Your agent should be able to get you an answer. Unfortnately that will not bring back your mature tree.
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Cathy Lynch, Agent, Mooresville, NC
Tue Aug 25, 2009
Call your attorney and discuss this with him and have him talk to the sellers agent or the sellers.
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Daniel Eberw…, Agent, Clayton, NC
Tue Aug 25, 2009
Nathan - you have no rights against the neighbor, as the house isn't yours. You may have rights against the seller, because the contract calls for the property to be in the same condition as when you made the offer. You are best to consult with the attorney handling the closing and discuss what your options are. If this is a foreclosure and the seller choose the closing attorney (which is common with foreclosures) then you are best to consult with your own real estate attorney regarding this. It really comes down to how concerned you are with the trees removal, and what it would cost to replace those trees with comparable trees.

Good luck.

Web Reference:  http://www.tri4sale.com
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Rose Cramer, Agent, Denver, NC
Tue Aug 25, 2009
You should have your buyers agent review your Offer to Purchase Contract.. Trees should not be removed because they are not in removable containers. You should have rights on this one.. Work thru your buyers agent.. That is what she is for. Good luck
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