A: Oregon law recognizes that trees on your residential property have great economic and aesthetic value. The term,”timber trespass” refers to unauthorized cutting of trees or other vegetation on another person’s property. This includes cutting a whole tree or just a few limbs.
In many instances, neighbors are responsible for timber trespass, often to allow sunlight into their garden, or enhance a scenic view. Government agencies and landscaping contractors commonly commit timber trespass, as well.
If your tree is cut, it can costs tens of thousands of dollars to uproot the tree stump, buy a new tree and then plant it.
Oregon Law ORS 105.810 entitles you to double or triple the amount it costs to replace the damage, depending on if the trespass was negligent or intentional. The purpose of this multiplier is to both encourage people to obtain property owner permission before cutting trees, and compensate the property owner for their loss.
Even a few cut limbs can also entitle you to a remedy. One distinction to consider is whether the cut limbs were originally on your property, or hanging over your neighbor’s property. Adjacent property owners have the right to cut any tree limbs or vegetation encroaching onto their property, but this right is not unqualified. If cutting any encroaching limbs causes harm to your plant, you are entitled to compensation. Also, if the limbs were cut on your property to begin with, you are entitled to a remedy, regardless of whether the tree is harmed as a result of the cutting. A remedy for cut tree limbs sometimes is the amount it would cost to plant a new tree that is approximately the same volume as the limbs lost.
UPDATE: For more information and previous cases of timber trespass by our firm, click here.