KCK Property Owner Responsibility with Trees

Trees are a very important asset in any community. Trees planted along streets help to retain stormwater runoff and helps to cool neighborhoods by reducing heat-island effects of roads and parking lots. Trees planted along streams and wetland prevents erosion and helps to keep water clean. Planting the right trees around your home or business saves energy. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and other pollutant particles, then store carbon and emit pure oxygen. Although healthy trees can add value to your property, trees also need to be maintained.
 
Many think that it is local government’s responsibility to maintain trees in the street right-of-ways. While this may be the case in some cities, in Kansas City, Kansas it is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain and cut if necessary trees that are planted along the street right-of-way.
 
There are any numbers of issues that may arise for property owners from trees. Some of these problems involve property disputes about where the property lines are and who actually is responsible for the violations. This may entail a survey which can be very costly to the property owners.
 
There are situations in which limbs are hanging into your yard from the neighbor’s property and you think that the Unified Government needs to have the neighbor cut the limbs. The Unified Government’s Code Enforcement Department cannot force the neighbor to cut the living limbs, but the impacted property owner may cut the limbs themselves that overhand their property line. But you may not want to cut your neighbor’s limbs because it is not your tree, because of the cost to you, or because of the potential liability. This is a civil matter between the two property owners and is not a Code Enforcement issue.
 
Recently a Kansas City, Kansas property owner had their roof damaged by a neighbor’s tree branch that broke and fell on their roof. The property owner took the neighbor to court to get back damages caused to their home. In this case, the judge ruled that this was an “act of God” and the property owner could not recoup any funds from the neighbor. The property owner had to have their insurance company fix the roof and had to pay their deductible to get it fixed.
 
There are also situations in which tree branches from a neighbor’s property fall into your yard. You as a property owner may feel that it’s not your responsibility to clean up branches in your yard from a neighbor’s tree. You want the Unified Government’s Code Enforcement Department to force the neighbor to clean up the tree limb that fell into your yard. Unfortunately, when the Code Enforcement Department becomes involved in this case, the violation is addressed where the tree branch landed or on your property and you will be responsible to remove the neighbor’s limb from your property.