We all want our neighbors to keep things up in the yard, but what if your neighbor is an abandoned home? It is what one South Bend homeowner is facing, but for her it is an issue of safety.  

Sharon Sexton has been staying with family for the last couple months. She is afraid to live in her own home.

"It is going to smash me and my dog. And if the whole tree falls, the house is going to be totaled," says Sexton.

The tree is noticeably lopsided. That's because in March the city forestry department trimmed it that way. It was becoming a safety hazard.
"About 6 months ago a limb fell in the street and knocked the wires down," says Sexton.

But she says now it is a safety hazard for her. In fact, on Sunday a giant limb broke off the tree, hit her roof and landed in her yard. She's angry and has written letters to the city voicing her frustration.

"I think they endangered my life and my house more since they cut all the limbs on this side and left all the limbs on the other side. I don't know why they didn't cut the whole tree down," says Sexton.

City Forester Brent Thompson says it isn't that easy.

"The tree is on private property, so it is the property owner's responsibility," says Thompson, "the city's responsibility is to maintain the right of way, public right of way safety. So we trimmed off all the limbs that were going over the street to make the street and sidewalk safe."

The problem is, that "private property" that the tree sits on is abandoned. And because of property laws, the city can't take it down. Thompson says it also wouldn't be right for taxpayers to foot the bill to trim the rest of the tree hanging over Sexton's home.

"How would that be fair to the tax payer? Why is the tax payer paying for us to do that? You got to treat everybody the same way. That is the only safe way that we can do it," says Thompson.

"I am afraid for my life. I'm afraid this tree is going to fall and smash us," says Sexton.

Thompson says the people that actually own the property live in Oregon. It is a group of four people. He has sent them numerous letters but there have been no answer and no change.