Articles Posted in Real Estate

BOUNDARY TREES:  WHO OWNS THEM?  WHO’S RESPONSIBLE?

Trees can be either an asset or a nuisance, depending on your perspective and situation. A tree that provides shade, privacy or other value to one person’s property may block the view of a neighbor or interfere with the neighbor’s use and enjoyment of his own property.

Questions often arise about the ownership of trees growing on or near a boundary line between adjoining properties.  Which landowner has the legal right or responsibility for a tree’s care or removal? What if they disagree over what is needed?  Whose interests take priority?

In Surrisi v. Bremner, a 2011 Indiana Court of Appeals decision, the court held the Bill of Sale issued to the buyer (Bremner) invalid, as the Bill of Sale named business personal property which was not included in the Notice of Sheriff’s Sale.

Bremner, a creditor of the sellers (Surrisis), was the highest bidder at the Sheriff’s Sale and the sheriff issued a Bill of Sale that included business personal property that was not included in the Notice of Sale. The court noted that although the Agreed Judgment between the two parties stated the Sheriff’s Sale would include both real and personal property, the Notice of Sheriff’s Sale, praecipe of sale, and tax documentation, only listed the real property as being sold at the sale. Relying on a 2000 Colorado Court of Appeals decision, the court found that no notice of sale was given with respect to the business personal property, so such property could not have been sold at the sheriff’s sale. The court also stated that nothing in the settlement agreement prevented the business personal property from being sold at another sheriff’s sale, leading the court to further presume that only real property was to be sold at the Sheriff’s Sale in question.

Jeremy Fetty is a partner in the law firm of Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson with offices in Lebanon and Indianapolis. He often advises businesses and utilities (for profit, non-profit and cooperative) on organizational, human resources, and transactional matters and drafts and reviews commercial contracts.