2017 Soybean Harvest

2017 Soybean Harvest

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Who owns the tree that straddles the property line?

One neighbour contended that a Norway Maple Tree straddled the property line.  The other neighbour wanted to cut the tree down.  She applied to the Court for an order stating that she was the sole owner of the tree (and, therefore, could proceed to take it down).  The neighbours on the other side of the property line disputed the ownership issue in an effort to save the tree.

According to the Forestry Act, every tree whose trunk is growing on the boundary line between adjoining lands is the common property of the owners of the adjoining lands. 

The Applicant argued that the tree at ground level was only situated on her property.  The Respondents insisted that the situation at ground level didn't accurately reflect the true location of the tree; the level of the ground adjacent to the trunk is variable depending on how much fill is placed against the trunk.  Instead, they argued that the base of the tree must be measured at the point at which the trunk meets the roots of the tree.

The Superior Court of Justice ruled that, for the purposes of the boundary tree provision in the Forestry Act, "the meaning of a treek trunk growing on a boundary line [includes] the entire trunk from its point of growth away from its roots up to its top where it branches out to limbs and foliage."  The Court added, "In any event, it is not only the arbitrary point at which the trunk emerges from the soil that governs."

According to the legislation, "in circumstances where the trunk is growing on the boundary line, co-ownership follows, no matter who planted the tree."

Read the decision at: Hartley v. Cunningham et al.