Private Property Trees

Trees on private property are regulated by the Tree Management Bylaw 4091, 2010

Important points to remember: 

  • Just because a tree is tall, does not mean it is dangerous. There are many other factors that a professional will review when assessing a tree’s risk. 
  • If you have concern about the safety of a tree on your private property, contact an arborist certified through the International Society of Arboriculture to assess for health and safety.  
  • The City of Coquitlam does not complete tree hazard risk assessments or complete tree work on private property trees. 

Trees and Neighbours

The City of Coquitlam does not regulate the trimming of trees on private property as long as the trimming does not violate the City’s tree management bylaw, notably ‘damage to a protected tree’. 

Urban Forestry strongly recommends speaking with your neighbor before beginning any tree work. As always, it is recommended that an ISA certified arborist perform any tree work. 

Pruning Your Neighbour’s Tree Branches That Overhang Onto Your Property

The City of Coquitlam does not regulate the trimming of trees on private property as long as the trimming does not violate the City’s Tree Management Bylaw.

Trimming a Neighbour’s Overhanging Branches

Urban Forestry recommends that you discuss this with your neighbour prior to planning any tree work. There are three main points to remember when dealing with trees on adjacent private property:

  • You cannot trespass onto your neighbour’s property, even by reaching or hanging over the property line while still standing in your own property.
  • You cannot damage your neighbour’s property (in this case a tree)
  • You have the right to maintain your property in a safe condition

It is, therefore, best for property owners to come to an agreement between themselves with respect to trees overhanging property lines. This is not something that the City can be involved in. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbour and want to determine your legal rights, you should contact a lawyer. If you choose to prune a neighbouring tree:

  • The usual scenario is that you are responsible for the cost of such work and for proper clean-up and disposal of pruning debris.
  • You cannot prune incorrectly nor can you prune in such a way to damage the tree, cause the tree to decline or die or cause the tree to become unsafe. Any of these things are a violation of the Tree Management Bylaw and could result in fines from the City and possible legal action from your neighbour.
  • All pruning should be done by a professional who is a certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), not by a gardener or a landscaper. Only a certified arborist is qualified to make pruning recommendations and carry out proper pruning.

You cannot top the tree (or any tree in Coquitlam) or raise the crown excessively as this is also a violation of the Tree Management Bylaw.

Safety or Property Damage Concerns About a Tree on a Neighbour’s Property

If you are concerned that a tree on a neighbouring property is putting your property at risk or has the potential to cause property damage, advise the property owner so that they may take the required action to address the situation.

Maintenance of privately owned trees is the responsibility of the property owner and issues regarding neighbouring trees are a matter between neighbours. Discussion and resolution is recommended. This is not something that the City can be involved in. If you are concerned about the safety of the trees you may wish to discuss the hiring of a "qualified tree risk assessor" with your neighbour.

If you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbour and want to determine your legal rights, you should contact a lawyer.