(WSVN) - A South Florida woman wants to put up a fence on her family property. The problem? A neighbor’s tree trunks have grown onto her property, and he won’t move them. What can she do? She called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser for answers to this tree trunk trouble.

When people say things are not like they used to be, Carmen can relate.

Carmen Alfonso, trouble with neighbor’s tree: “This house was built back by my father. It was the first house that was built, the very first house in the area.”

And for a while in the mid ’70s, the only house in the neighborhood, making it nice and peaceful.

Carmen Alfonso: “We lived and grew up with horses and cows and trails. My brothers and I used to take off, hide among them with trails, feeding horses and cows.”

Boy, times have changed.

Carmen Alfonso: “The first time, I went by myself over, and I had the door thrown at my face.”

Many years ago, Carmen’s late father put up a chain link fence.

Carmen, who now helps her mother take care of the house, says her neighbors slowly damaged it.

Carmen Alfonso: “It was just numerous things that they had thrown against the fence throughout the years.”

When her neighbors refused to remove the items, Carmen called code enforcement.

To avoid more neighbor disputes, Carmen has decided to install a new fence like this.

Carmen Alfonso: “I was willing to put up a fence to give them privacy and give us privacy.”

But, a survey she paid for showed her chain link fence had been put about a half foot from the property line, and her neighbors had planted palm trees there.

Patrick Fraser: “If you go by your survey, those three trees are on your property?”

Carmen Alfonso: “That is correct, and I can’t put up a fence right now because the trunks are literally in our property line.”

Carmen asked her neighbors to move their palms. They said no.

She says she offered to pay to move them.

They responded with a cease and desist letter.

Carmen Alfonso: “Saying that I do not have the right to speak with them. That’s a tactic to scare you. Little do they know I don’t get scared that easily.”

Carmen could put up a new fence, but it would have to go around the palm trees.

Carmen Alfonso: “I’m not willing to put a fence 2 and a half feet into our property space and give them all that space.”

Legally, Carmen cannot cut the portion of the palm on her property because it would kill the tree, leaving her very few options.

Carmen Alfonso: “It is extremely aggravating when we can’t even put a fence. I would like to have privacy. I would like to have a fence that is nice and don’t want to see them anymore.”

Well, Howard, legally, what can you do about a neighbor’s tree trunk growing on your property?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “In Florida, this is what’s called a case of first impression, and by that, I mean while the courts have said you can cut any branches hanging over your property, they have not ruled on whether you can cut a tree trunk growing on your property, and the only way to get an answer is to take this to court.”

I spoke to Carmen’s neighbor. Needless to say they won’t be holding a neighborhood gathering together.

The man told me, “I don’t want to be her friend.” “She cannot touch my trees.” “If she does not leave me alone, I am going to call a lawyer.”

Howard Finkelstein: “If Carmen goes to court, I think she wins because she needs to replace her fence, and the palm trees are in the way. Couple that with the fact her neighbor planted the trees too close to the property line and created this problem. I believe a judge will order her neighbor to move the trees or allow Carmen to cut them down.”

And Carmen says she will go to court to bring peace to her part of the neighborhood like in the old days.

Carmen Alfonso: “We just want peace, and that’s all I want.”

Carmen wants her neighbor to leave her alone, and her neighbor says he wants her to leave him alone. At least they agree on that.

By the way, that cease and desist letter her neighbor sent Carmen is a waste of paper because to be legit, it has to be signed by a judge.

A problem got you fenced in? Feel like it’s uprooting your life? Branch out and call us. See if we can calm the conflict.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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