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Minnesota State Law Library

Neighbor Law

Tree Ownership

"It is accepted law in all states that a tree whose trunk stands wholly on the land of one person belongs to that person.  If the trunk stands partly on the land of two or more people, it usually belongs to all the property owners."

Source:  Neighbor Law (pp. 49)

Hazard Trees/Limbs

A hazard tree is a tree with a defect, plus a target.  An example is a dead tree branch (a hazard) by a house (the target).

Hazard Trees and Limbs on Private Property Fact Sheet


Suing for Tree Damages

Minn. Stat. 561.04  Whoever without lawful authority cuts down or carries off any wood, under wood, tree, or timber, or girdles or otherwise injures any tree, timber, or shrub, on the land of another person, or in the street or highway in front of any person's house, city lot, or cultivated grounds, or on the commons or public grounds of any city or town, or in the street or highway in front thereof, is liable in a civil action to the owner of such land, or to such city or town, for treble the amount of damages which may be assessed therefor, unless upon the trial it appears that the trespass was casual or involuntary, or that the defendant had probable cause to believe that the land on which the trespass was committed was the defendant's, or that of the person in whose service or by whose direction the act was done, in which case judgment shall be given for only the single damages assessed.

Source:  Office of the Revisor of Statutes

Tree Damages

"The basic rule is this:  Someone who cuts down, removes, or hurts a tree without permission owes the tree's owner money to compensate for the harm done.  The owner can sue to enforce that right."

Source:  Neighbor Law (pp. 49)

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In our positions as librarians, not lawyers, we can suggest resources but cannot give legal advice (such as which form to file) or legal opinions (such as how a statute might apply to particular facts). To do so could be considered the unauthorized practice of law. Even though we try to suggest materials that will be of help, more research is often required to find a complete and correct answer. For many questions, the best answer may be to consult an attorney.