The neighboring duplex has a tree in the backyard that is very old. Although it is a beautiful, probably 100ft+ tree, you can tell it is dying based on the color. It had very long and thin branches.
My duplex is very close to Lake Erie and we can substantial wind storms here. The branches of the tree hang over my tenants parking spots and they have complained that smaller branches have fallen and scratched their car, as well as a larger branch falling and taking out a section of fencing.
My biggest fear is the tree coming down completely in a storm, based on the angle it’s leaning now it would probably fall right on my garage.
1) I’ve tried to find a contact for the property and can’t find anything. I’m hoping to address the situation with them directly. Does anyone have suggestions for finding contact info of the neighboring owner?
2) Doni have any legal grounds here to force them to take the tree down or to at least remove the branches hanging over my property?
The best thing to do is begin a log of the dates, times and contact methods you have tried to reach the owner. Try things like, calling, sending mail, dropping a letter off in the mailbox, getting additional contact info from the city for the property owner.
if you have a log of the number of times and ways you have tried to contact the owner, you have grounds to have their insurance pay for any/all damages caused by the tree. if you don't have anything to provide, never tried to contact them, or don't have documentation, your insurance (and deductible) would be labile for the damage.
The Tax Assessors office should have an address for the owner. Just notifying them that you think it is dying may not be enough to make it a liability situation when the tree falls. If you can get an arborist out to look at it, even from a distance, and they determine that it might be dying that is better. I would then send a certified letter to the owner indicating your concerns, what the arborist suspects, and suggest that they have the tree checked out. You can also offer to have your arborist check it and get you a report that you will share with them. As Matt mentioned, document everything.
I agree with the prior posters and did something similar last summer.
I have a neighbor's tree looming over the garage of one of my rentals. It has lost some smaller branches which have fallen near the garage.
Since I'm afraid it (or one of its huge branches) will fall onto the garage I sent a registered letter to the property owner (and printed a copy of the USPS tracking from the USPS website showing my letter was received) stating I think they should have a professional take a look at the tree because I'm concerned of its health.
Now it goes from being an 'Act of God' to negligence in the event the tree causes damage.
I'm not sure about OH laws, etc but here trees are a problem because even if it's your neighbors tree while it's alive and "up" if it falls it's actually the responsibility of whomever owns the property it falls on. Now, most of the time good neighbors help out, etc. BUT here if a limb hangs over your property you're legally allowed to trim that over your property line whether or not the "owner" approves.