Market Shifting, Neighbour’s Dead Tree


Dear David,

With all the changes we are seeing in the real estate market, are we in trouble? – NERVOUS

DEAR NERVOUS: When it comes to real estate sales, supply and demand change on a regular basis. As of today, it appears that we are shifting slightly out of a seller’s market and towards a more balanced market.

Here in Waterloo Region, we historically have one of the most stable real estate markets in Canada. Our location, demographic and the nature of our industries provide excellent fundamentals. But no one has a crystal ball and fluctuations are inevitable. It’s critical that your Realtor understands the forces that drive the market so they can anticipate changes, act quickly, and help you to make educated decisions about your largest investment.


Dear David,

The house next to us sold last year. There is a large dead tree at the back of the property. During storms, large branches have broken off and fallen onto our patio. We are concerned that remaining branches could cause injury to injure someone or damage the patio space. We spoke to our new neighbours, who erroneously think the city will deal with it. Is there a way to compel them to deal with the tree before our fears are realized? – LIVING DANGEROUSLY

DEAR LD: In the words of Gilbert K. Chesterton, “We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next door neighbour.”

I hear your frustration. Try talking to your neighbours again and keep written notes of the conversation. A calm, face-to-face chat will likely be more productive than sending a letter, which has a tendency to feel adversarial. Because they now own the property, your new neighbours are responsible for the tree. “The City” will deal with trees located on city property, but this type of issue tends to be considered a civil matter, which is between you and your neighbour.

When it comes to dealing with a tree on an adjacent private property, it’s important to remember the following: you are not permitted to trespass onto your neighbour’s property, you can’t damage your neighbour’s property (in this case a tree), and you have the right to maintain your own property in a safe condition. As a property owner, you can lay claim to a reasonable amount of space above your home, if the space can be reasonably occupied (which sounds like the case with your patio).  Overhanging branches become the property of the owner over whose lot they are located and they can be trimmed or removed.

If large branches are falling from your neighbor’s tree onto your property, you are entitled to be reimbursed for the cost of their removal. If you have coverage, your insurance company will cover the cost of damages from your neighbour’s tree in most cases, though they may seek restitution from your neighbours’ insurance company. I would suggest calling your insurance company to make sure you have coverage. If you speak to your neighbours and don’t feel comfortable with their response, you may possibly want to call your lawyer as well.