Tree ownership is determined by the location of the tree, not who planted it. If you knowingly or unknowingly plant a tree on City property, it is considered a gift to the City. Under Hamilton’s Tree By-law No. 15-125 (PDF, 533 KB), this tree becomes the City’s responsibility to maintain or remove in the future.
Determining ownership of trees
The location of the property line determines tree ownership, not the location of fence lines. If a tree has greater than 50% of its trunk diameter measured at ground level on the private side of the property line, it is considered a private tree. Property owners are responsible for maintaining private trees.
If the City planted a tree in the past that is now on private property, it is considered a private tree and will not be maintained or removed by the City.
City or Private
If the tree is located between your property and City property, call 905-546-2489. A forestry investigator will visit to measure the distance of the tree and determine if you or the City owns it.
City or Builder
If the tree is within a subdivision that is less than two years old, it is considered to be owned by the builder until the City assumes the tree. The City will not normally assume ownership of the tree until two to three years after the completion of the development.
Private Tree Between Neighbours
Refer to your property survey for measurements of the property line to determine who owns the tree. If you do not have a property survey, Building may have a copy on file. Call 905-546-2424 ext. 2720. If they do not have the survey, you may need to have your property surveyed.