What Recourse Do I Have Against Overgrowth on Neighboring Property That is Damaging My Fence?

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“We have an abandoned broken down house and unkept property next door and behind us. The properties are both now owned by ASU bank in another state. Our fence is currently being taken down or torn apart from a large 1/2 acre blackberry bush. We had the previous owners clean it up once but they did nothing to kill the blackberries and there is a law about maintaining and cutting down these types of berry bushes. We have done what we can on our side with them but they grow under ground and pop up half way in our yard. They need to be destroyed at the source. Do we have any legal recourse with the bank to repair our fence, or soon to  build us a new one?”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Probably yes.  If there is a law requiring owners in your area to maintain the plants on their land (at least to the extent that they interfere with the neighbors), then there’s a good chance that not doing so qualifies as either a trespass or nuisance, possibly both.  Either one would give you grounds to sue the owner of the neighboring
property–that is, the bank.

A less expensive (to you) option you might want to consider is contacting the code enforcement or similar agency in your area, to see if this is the type of problem that they might cite a property owner for.

Another possibility is to contact your homeowner’s insurance company, who may be willing to take some action against the neighbor (or their insurance company) to avoid a possible future claim.  In the case of damage only to a fence, however, this might not rise to the level that an insurance company would address.

One thing you should not do, however, is take any direct action (like pruning the bushes yourself) without consulting a local attorney first. Laws on this differ from one area to another, and even if you are within your rights in doing so, you want to do it correctly and carefully to avoid any potential liability.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.