Fancher v. Fagella

Fancher v. Fagella regarding Virginia tree law


The Massachusetts Rule regarding tree encroachment is followed in most states. However, Virginia adopted a new rule. Apparently in Virginia a tree owner can now be held liable for damage caused by their tree and can forced to cut back roots and limbs if the tree poses a risk of actual harm or an imminent danger.

"Accordingly, we hold that encroaching trees and plants are not nuisances merely because they cast shade, drop leaves, flowers, or fruit, or just because they happen to encroach upon adjoining property either above or below the ground. However, encroaching trees and plants may be regarded as a nuisance when they cause actual harm or pose an imminent danger of actual harm to adjoining property. If so, the owner of the tree or plant may be held responsible for harm caused to [adjoining property], and may also be required to cut back the encroaching branches or roots, assuming the encroaching vegetation constitutes a nuisance. We do not, however, alter existing . . . law that the adjoining landowner may, at his own expense, cut away the encroaching vegetation to the property line whether or not the encroaching vegetation constitutes a nuisance or is otherwise causing harm or possible harm to the adjoining property. Thus, the law of self-help remains intact . . . ."

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Reference Info:Decision | State, 4th Circuit, Virginia | United States

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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