Property owners are responsible for trees located on their property
Fairfax County has no legal authority to require the removal of hazardous tree(s) that are located on private property unless the tree(s) threaten the public at large.
When there is a dispute between neighbors about a potentially hazardous tree, this is a civil issue and Fairfax County will not take action in these situations.
Potentially Hazardous Tree on Private Property
If the tree is on private property and threatens the general public (public streets and sidewalks) or if you are not sure, call the Fairfax County Urban Forest Management Division (UFMD) at (703) 324-1770 TTY 711. UFMD will assess the tree as to its degree of risk to the general public once ownership is verified. If the tree is determined to be a hazard to the general public, then UFMD will issue a health and safety code enforcement violation and require the property owner to remove the tree or part of the tree that is a hazard.
When a potentially hazardous tree is located on private property and is not in a position to threaten any public areas, then Fairfax County will not require the removal of the tree, but recommends that the property owner contact a private Certified Arborist or Registered Consulting Arborist for advice on how to handle the situation. Possible solutions may include pruning to remove a branch with a weak attachment or has been weakened by decay, providing external support for weakened branches, providing remedial care, or removing the affected tree.
UFMD ONLY will inspect trees for potential impacts to the public at large and may require the property owner to remove the tree if necessary. UFMD does not provide tree consulting removal services for property owners.
If you are considering removing a tree on your property because you have concerns about safety, it is recommended that you first obtain a determination of the level of risk from an arborist qualified as a Tree Risk Assessor. Trees provide numerous benefits to the community and add value to your property. If the tree is a low to moderate risk, removal may not be necessary. Ask your arborist what steps could be taken to reduce the risk and make your property safer without removing the entire tree. If it is determined that removal is the best way to abate the hazard, you will need to determine if the tree is located in a conservation easement or Resource Protection Area that may be on your property.
Trees in a Resource Protection Area or Conservation Easement
In general, trees that are determined to be dead, diseased and/or dying can be removed from these areas by hand, but may require replacement with similar vegetation. These restricted areas should be described in the recorded deed and may be delineated on the property plat. Resource Protection Areas are also shown on County tax maps. View Find Your Watershed
Consult Urban Forest Management Division staff to review tree removal or planting, and for questions regarding Resource Protection Areas or conservation easements on private property.
To request a Resource Protection Area waiver, please contact Land Development Services Technical and Support Center at 703-222-0801. Learn more at What Permits are Required?
To request a waiver for tree work in a Conservation Easement, contact the Urban Forest Management Division at 703-324-1770, TTY 711 or by email.