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Real estate Q&A: My neighbor's tree is ruining my yard; what can I do? [Sun Sentinel :: BC-REAL-REALESTATE-QA:FL]

Q: We live in a community with small lots. My neighbor has a huge tree sitting 3 feet from my property line that blocks the morning sun and sheds leaves constantly, making my yard look horrible and stopping the lawn from filling in. What are my options? - Landra

A: There is not too much you can do about the sun being blocked, but you do have some rights.

You can, at your own expense, trim any branches that hang over your property as long as you do not damage the tree. Your neighbor is not responsible for the leaves that fall in your yard or for blocking the sunlight.

You should try to speak with your neighbor and let him or her know how the tree is affecting you. I am amazed by how many people I consult with who did not speak to their neighbor about an issue first before calling a lawyer. Often a friendly conversation can work miracles. However, this is not always the case.

Before you give up, it pays to do some research. Each property is different, and you may find some relief in the things that make your property unique. Take a look at your municipality's code to make sure the tree is allowed where it is. Many cities have rules about types of trees and how high they can be grown. If you live in a community association, check the rules and speak with the board about the problem. You may get some traction if the tree is also blocking a particular view, such as a view of the ocean or a landmark.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.

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