Who Owns the Tree on a Property Boundary Line?

A tree on a property line in Ontario is jointly owned by both property owners based on a ruling by Justice J. Patrick Moore on May, 17 2013 in the Ontario Court of Appeal. This ruling delivered referencing to an obscure provision found in the Ontario Forestry Act. The landmark case was identified as “Hartley vs. Scharper”, the residents of 168 and 170 Humewood Drive, Toronto. The Ontario Forestry Act provision states:

  • Trees Common Property: Every tree whose trunk is growing on the boundary between adjoining lands is the common property of the owners of the adjoining lands.
  • Offence: Every person who injures or destroys a tree growing on the boundary between adjoining lands without the consent of the landowners is guilty of an offence under this act.

Most other provinces allow a property owner to simply cut any part of the tree that crosses the property line.

The penalty in Ontario for injuring or destroying a tree on the boundary line is a fine of up to $20,000 or imprisonment up to 3 months in addition to any civil remedies. The broadly worded statement does not make distinction when a tree grows on one property and crosses the boundary line in the air. Resolving boundary tree issues in Ontario can no longer be considered a trivial after thought, and will more likely require the assistance of an experienced lawyer in addition to an arborist.

These landmark cases are examples of the benefits of hiring an experienced and talented lawyer to represent your claim. If you have a legal question or want to contact a lawyer regarding a property or real estate issue, please call SBMB Law at 905 883 9242 or visit our website www.sbmblaw.com.