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The Florida Senate

CS/SB 518 — Private Property Rights to Prune, Trim, and Remove Trees

by Community Affairs Committee and Senator Brodeur

This summary is provided for information only and does not represent the opinion of any Senator, Senate Officer, or Senate Office.

Prepared by: Community Affairs Committee (CA)

The governing body of a county or municipality has broad legislative powers to enact ordinances to perform governmental functions and exercise power to promote the health, welfare, safety, and quality of life of a local government’s residents. To that end, many counties and municipalities enact tree management ordinances to regulate tree removal and maintenance on private property, often requiring property owners to obtain a permit or pay a fee before pruning, trimming, or removing a tree on their property. 

Legislation enacted during the 2019 Regular Session prohibits local governments from requiring a 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 a certified arborist or a licensed landscape architect, that the tree presents a danger to persons or property. Additionally, a local government may not require a property owner to replant a tree that was pruned, trimmed, or removed in accordance with this law.

CS/SB 518 revises the 2019 provision to provide clarity and precision to the operation of the law. The bill provides that a local government may not burden a property owner’s rights to prune, trim, or remove trees on his or her own property if the tree “poses an unacceptable risk” to persons or property. Under the bill, a tree poses an unacceptable risk if removal is the only means of practically mitigating its risk below moderate as outlined in Best Management Practices – Tree Risk Assessment, Second Edition (2017).

The bill also describes the documentation that must be produced by an arborist or landscape architect in determining that a tree poses an unacceptable risk. It also clarifies the applicability of the law by defining "residential property" to mean a single-family detached building located on an existing lot actively used for single-family residential purposes.

If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2022. 

Vote: Senate 38-0; House 116-1