FLORIDA — There’s a new law to help homeowners worried about potential tree damage better protect their property.

  • New law allows homeowners to prune, remove trees that may be a danger
  • Homeowners will be able to do so without local government permission

The initial bill HB 1159, or “Private Property Rights,” was sponsored by State Rep. Mike La Rosa. It allows homeowners to prune, trim, or remove trees without permit or application from local governments.

In a statement to Spectrum News 13, La Rosa said:

“I am proud to have sponsored HB 1159, as it strengthens property owner’s rights against local government overreach. With hurricane season approaching, this also will allow Florida homeowners to rid themselves of certifiably dangerous trees, which could damage their homes in the event of a storm or high winds … ”

Here are five things to know about HB 1159:

1) Local governments are now prohibited from requiring notice, application, approval, permit, fee, or mitigation for the pruning, trimming, or removal of a tree on residential property if the property owner obtains documentation, from an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or a Florida licensed landscape architect, that the tree presents a danger to persons or property.

2) HB 1159 does not apply to the exercise of specifically delegated authority for mangrove protection.

3) A local government may not require a property owner to replant a tree that was pruned, trimmed, or removed.

4) Property owners adjacent to an electric utility right of way can request utilities to perform vegetation maintenance without approval of local government.

5) A local government shall not adopt an ordinance or land development regulation that requires the planting of a tree or other vegetation that will achieve a height greater than 14 feet in an established electric utility right-of-way or intrude from the side closer than the clearance distance.