Q. My neighbor’s tree has branches that drop its leaves all over my yard. Can I cut off the branches that are on my side of the fence?

The property owner may cut the tree to the property line but must exercise reasonable care so as to not harm the remaining portion of the tree on the neighbor’s property. It’s best to coordinate the trimming with the neighbor and used a certified arborist.

If you are having trouble communicating with the neighbor or have questions about the property line, it’s recommended that you talk to an attorney before any trimming or cutting.

Q: Is rent-to-buy furniture a good idea?

I am not permitted to give financial advice. So, when it comes to the terms of purchase, meaning the interest rate and purchase price, you’ll have to do your own due diligence. I will note that in my experience, a large percentage of people filing for bankruptcy also had rent-to-own furniture agreements.

Most people I talk to that end up with rent-to-own furniture use this route earlier on in their rental life and purchase their own furniture as time goes on.

Q: What is an easement? How do I know if the property I want to buy has one? How do I find out if it is abandoned or not?

This is by no means exhaustive, and I’ll try not to use legalese, but we need to start with some basic ideas. Easements are nonpossessory interests in land of another, entitling the easement holder to limited use of the other’s land. Nonpossessory is a term to describe any of a category of rights held by one person to use land that is in the possession of another.

An easement does not give the holder a right of possession but rather a right to use something from the possessory estate of another.

An easement holder is a person with a legal right to use the easement and may include the owner of the land across which the easement passes.

There are numerous ways of creating easements. The way in which the easement was created will necessarily determine the scope of the easement and the extent of the encumbrance on the underlying real property.

Think of utilities, the most common type of easement, which provides for access to the dominant estate over the servient estate. A utility easement allows for wires, cable, or pipes to be strung over, placed upon, or buried under the servient estate.

A grant of an easement should be drawn and executed with the same formalities as a deed to real estate.

Generally, abandonment occurs only when an easement holder manifests the intent to relinquish the servitude by affirmative conduct.

Typically, when buying a piece of property, you will obtain a title report. The title report should show all easements of record.

The most efficient way to vet out an easement is to have a local real property lawyer in the county where the land is situated to investigate the chain of title and other instruments pertaining to the parcel that are public record.


I would like to take the remainder of this column to make some comments and provide some additional resources.

First, I would ask those reading this column to continue to submit questions. Submitting questions takes bravery, and your questions help others in similar situations. Please feel free to submit them to me at clootenlaw@gmail.com or the “contact us” portal on my website. You’ll notice that I’ve never used a questioner’s name or information.

Second, the feedback I’ve received through these columns has been so positive that I’ve dedicated additional time to answering similar questions via podcast available here: apple.co/3JXen3b.

Third, in my September 2021 column, I answered an important question about workplace sexual harassment. With a word count limit, I wasn’t able to include everything I wanted. Thereafter, I worked with another attorney who specializes in employment law to write a more complete answer. That article will first be published through the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association Trial Lawyer Magazine, which is published quarterly. Once published in the magazine, I will make the article available through the resources tab on my website: oregonlegalfirm.com.

Fourth, providing legal resources to those with questions is an important responsibility. Writing this monthly column is a great privilege, and I am thankful for the questions received. I will continue to focus on providing the best possible information and content possible. That being said, these column are for general information only and there is no substitute for competent legal advice. Please talk to an attorney for your own legal situation to determine the best solution.

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Blaine Clooten is an attorney serving Umatilla County with a focus on family law, estate planning and personal injury cases. Questions answered do not create an attorney-client relationship. Facts and law may vary; talk to an attorney for more information.

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