Living in the New Orleans area means you have trees everywhere. This includes BIG trees, like 100-year-old oak trees. As people look at property to purchase, they ask how the trees may affect them down the road. Here is the quick lowdown on tree laws in Louisiana. Please note: this is NOT legal advice, and you should speak with an attorney about the ins and outs of your specific case!
Can you cut a tree that hangs over your property?
If your neighbor has a tree with limbs hanging over into your yard, you will need their permission to cut the tree. See the civil code below.
Louisiana Civil Code Art. 688. Branches or roots of trees, bushes, or plants on neighboring property.
A landowner has the right to demand that the branches or roots of a neighbor’s trees, bushes, or plants, that extend over or into his property be trimmed at the neighbor’s expense. A landowner does not have this right if the roots or branches do not interfere with the enjoyment of his property: Act 1977, No. 514, §1.
However, if your neighbor will not cut the tree back, you can file for an injunction to get permission to do so on your own. But don’t grab a chainsaw and start hacking into a tree that isn’t on your property!
Is the neighbor responsible if the tree falls on my property?
We wish we could say yes, but it’s likely no.
If your neighbor has a rotting, dying tree in their yard (and they know about it and choose to do nothing) and it falls on your property – then, yes, they are likely liable for it. But if the tree falls due to a hurricane, tornado, etc., and was perfectly healthy, then it likely won’t be their fault. Unfortunately, that’s an “act of God,” and their insurance probably won’t pay for that. Louisiana law requires you to prove that the neighbor failed to take care of the tree. Louisiana Civil Code Article 1317.1 covers this issue.
What if the trees/shrubs are on the property line?
Louisiana Civil Code Article 687 addresses this issue at hand. Any trees, bushes, or shrubs on the boundary are considered common UNLESS there is proof to the contrary. I don’t know what evidence you need or how you would even get said proof. This is when you need to speak to an attorney.
Either owner can demand that these shared shrubs, bushes, or trees be removed if it’s interfering with their right to enjoy their property. However, they will be responsible for the removal, and the other party does not have to contribute.
Is it illegal to cut down an oak tree in my yard?
There are currently no Louisiana state laws to protect the removal of oak trees. However, there are local ordinances in various places across the state. Check your parish/city to ensure you’re not breaking any laws.
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