Arboriculture law, which refers to law regarding trees, varies from state to state. Arboriculture law covers issues, such as deliberately damaging trees or cutting them down. Other issues are boundary line tree trespass and improper trimming. These laws aim at protecting trees to promote ecofriendly living. Washington State has various laws regarding cutting down trees.
When a Tree Spreads to Your Neighbor
If you plant a tree on your property and it grows into your neighbor’s property, Washington law deems such a tree to be jointly and equally owned by you and your neighbor. You cannot cut down that tree without acquiring permission from your neighbor.
Read More: Washington State's Neighbor Law for Neighbors and Trees
Punitive damages can be imposed on you if you deliberately cut down a tree that is in another person's property. The courts have punished such offenses with triple damages for those who commit this crime. Anyone trying to cut a tree must first ensure that it is not in another person's property. There should be a mutual agreement between the owners before such action can take place.
A property owner could be held legally responsible for any kind of property damage or personal injury costs which are caused by an old or weakened tree on his property. If the tree is healthy and strong and it falls down on someone’s car or house due to bad storms or heavy winds, you cannot be held responsible for damages. Such expenses would generally be covered by the owner's insurance policy. But, as a property owner in the Washington State, ensure the well-being of a diseased, weak or an old tree so that it does not cause injury or damage to others.
Washington State requires everyone to take care of trees and refrain from endangering them. Any person who trims or poisons a tree can be charged in court. Further, if you have good knowledge regarding any problem with a tree in your property, it is your duty to take corrective action.
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, David Karanja has been writing since 2008. His articles have appeared in newspapers such as “Our Sunday Visitor," “Weekly Citizen” and “People Daily." Karanja holds a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Nairobi.