Ask a Real Es­tate Pro

You may need a per­mit to cut down a tree in your yard.

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

Q: Last week as I was about to cut down a tree in my yard that was dump­ing leaves into my pool, my neigh­bor came run­ning out of his house to tell me I could be in trou­ble for do­ing this with­out our town’s per­mis­sion. I held off be­cause he was so in­sis­tent. Is this true? — Harry

A: Be sure to thank your neigh­bor be­cause he prob­a­bly saved you some ag­gra­va­tion.

With few ex­cep­tions, most cities and coun­ties re­quire that you ob­tain a per­mit to re­move a tree on your own prop­erty. You must ap­ply for the per­mit and pay a fee to de­ter­mine whether you will be al­lowed to re­move the tree.

The rules vary from place to place, so you’ll need to check where you live to see if a per­mit is nec­es­sary. In some ar­eas, cer­tain types of trees can be re­moved with­out a per­mit, along with smaller trees un­der a cer­tain di­am­e­ter (usu­ally 6 inches or less). Also, the rules may be dif­fer­ent de­pend­ing on how far the tree is from your prop­erty line. How­ever, dead trees typ­i­cally can be re­moved with­out a per­mit.

Most cities and coun­ties will send some­one to your home at your re­quest to help de­ter­mine what may be re­moved and what to re­place it with, but you will be re­spon­si­ble for the work. If you are hir­ing a con­trac­tor to as­sist you, re­mem­ber to make sure they’re li­censed and in­sured.

When you get the per­mit, you’ll usu­ally be re­quired to re­place the tree with one or more trees of a sim­i­lar size and cer­tain (usu­ally na­tive) species.

If you de­cide that all of this isn’t worth it and just chop away, you can be fined and charged a re­plant­ing fee. Many mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have hot­lines for home­own­ers to report of­fend­ing neigh­bors. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, folks can get very up­set when trees are cut down im­prop­erly, so be sure to fol­low the rules.

Gary Singer

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