RUNNING BAMBOO – A Potential Liability for Connecticut Homeowners

“Running bamboo” is a specific type of bamboo plant which has a tendency to spread well beyond where it was originally planted. Running bamboo is sold and planted in Connecticut as an ornamental garden plant and due to its rapid growth and spreading properties, frequently used as a hedge or border plant.  Unfortunately, the properties which make it attractive for such uses also can result in the plant exhibiting invasive qualities and spreading from one property to another.  Once running bamboo takes hold, it is very difficult (and expensive) to completely eradicate.  For additional information regarding running bamboo, see this document from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

In an attempt to address these concerns, the Connecticut legislature passed a law in 2013 that prohibits the planting or allowing the planting of a specific type of running bamboo (defined in the law as those in the plant genus Phyllostachys including Phyllostachys aureoselcata) within forty feet of an abutting owner or public right of way, and assesses a daily fine for planting or allowing the planting of such bamboo within forty feet of a property line.

The Connecticut law, found at Section 22a-381e of the Connecticut General Statutes, further provides that allowing the bamboo to grow beyond the boundaries of a parcel of real property “shall be deemed to be a nuisance,” and that an owner “shall be liable for any damages caused to any neighboring property by such bamboo, including, but not limited to, the cost of removal of any running bamboo that grew beyond the boundaries of his or her property.”  This means that as long as a neighbor can demonstrate that the bamboo in question is the specific type regulated by the statute and the bamboo crossed the property line, then the neighbor has a right to sue for money damages or costs without a showing that such bamboo was a trespass or a nuisance as was previously required.

This law can be helpful for property owners when their property has been “invaded” by bamboo growing from an adjoining parcel. Property owners with such bamboo growing on their property should be careful to make sure that it does not spread beyond their property lines or they risk being sued, paying damages and fines.

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