Members of a popular internet forum were quick to show support for one homeowner who detailed the ongoing dispute they’ve had with their neighbor regarding an apple tree on their property.
In a viral Reddit post published on r/AmITheA**hole, Redditor u/Late_Adhesiveness859 (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) said that they live in their grandparents’ home, and recounted the numerous complaints they’ve received about the tree the late couple planted decades ago.
Titled, “[Am I the a**hole] for not removing a tree from my property as my new neighbour demands?,” the viral post has received nearly 11,500 votes and 2,200 comments in the last day.
Explaining that they grew up climbing, and picking fruit from their grandparents’ apple tree, the original poster said their neighbors have repeatedly requested they cut it down to allow more sunlight to their garden, where they plan to install a hot tub.
“New neighbors recently moved in next door and they keep complaining about the tree, wanting it cut down as it is casting shade into their garden where they want to put a hot tub,” they wrote.
“None of the tree overhangs into their property at all, it just sadly cuts off light in that one specific area,” they continued. “I’ve apologized but told them I won’t be cutting it down and suggested they put their hot tub somewhere else.”
Despite threats of legal action, the original poster has stood firm, refusing to cut down the tree.
The original poster also informed their neighbors that they installed cameras on their property, so any unauthorized attempts to remove or damage the tree will be recorded.
“They are pissed off at me and complaining about how it’s just a tree and it’s not a big deal to cut it down,” OP wrote. “The husband has also been threatening to get lawyers involved to force me to cut it down.”
“I’ll admit that pissed me off and killed any good will I had towards them,” they continued. “I’ve told them to do whatever the f**k they want but warned them I’ve got a camera in my back garden so if they mess with the tree, I’ll know.”
Tree law, according to Atlas Obscura, is “a little-known corner of the legal system that deals with everything tree-related, from fatalities caused by falling branches to disputes over a tree blocking a view.”
In the United States, laws regarding trees vary from state to state, and city to city.
However, there are certain clear-cut policies which dictate who owns trees close to property lines, and the consequences for any damage caused by upset neighbors, or by the trees themselves.
Trees growing squarely within a property’s boundaries are owned by the property owner. Trees growing on boundaries between properties are called “boundary trees,” and belong to the owners of the properties on which the tree is growing, according to NOLO, an online resource for legal information.
In cases like the one described in the viral Reddit post, shade cast by a tree onto a neighbor’s property is not grounds for removal, especially if the tree is growing solely outside of marked property lines.
Throughout the comment section of the viral post, Redditors pointed out that the original poster’s neighbors likely have no say in what happens to the disputed apple tree, and encouraged OP to continue protecting the natural heirloom.
“That is a part of your property that you love and cherish,” Redditor u/Lobaby1414 wrote in the post’s top comment, which has received more than 14,000 votes.
“They knew the tree was there when they moved in so clearly it wasn’t a deal breaker for them. You can’t always be a people pleaser. Protect your peace and protect your tree!,” they added.
Redditor u/General_Relative2838, whose comment has received nearly 5,000 votes, warned the original poster to keep an eye on their neighbors and questioned the motives behind their brash demand.
“I’d watch out for these people,” they wrote. “It takes pushy people to move into a neighborhood and go to the house of someone who has lived there for years and demand that person cut down an apple tree grown from a family orchard.”
“Disputes about trees are common enough that a body of law has developed around the issue,” Redditor u/que_he_hecho chimed in, referencing tree law.
“If they damage or cut down a tree on your property without your consent that could be a very costly mistake for them,” they added.
Newsweek reached out to u/Late_Adhesiveness859 for comment.