Are your neighbours’ trees or hedges affecting your property? Are they hanging over the fence or causing other issues on your land? This is a more common problem than you think. If you share a boundary, it can be difficult to know what to do when you are having an issue. Let’s take a look at the law and best ways you can do with this situation.
No matter what problem you are having, it is always best to speak directly to your neighbour. Perhaps they are unaware that their property is affecting yours and will be willing to fix the issue. If you are not comfortable speaking to them face-to-face, you can always call them or write them a letter.
Of course, if you feel like this would cause further problems and aggravation, avoid this step. Perhaps it would be better to take things further, which we will explain later on.
Under common law, you have the right to cut any tree branches that are currently hanging over into your property. This is true even if you do not own the tree. However, it is important to note that the trimmings actually belong to your neighbour. You can ask them to take their branches or ask if you are able to dispose of them.
While it may be tempting to just through them over the fence, it is best to avoid doing this. It may be classed as fly tipping. If there is fruit growing on the trees overhanging your house, you are not entitled to keep the fruit. This would constitute stealing, as they tree belongs to your neighbour.
Make sure that you cut the tree carefully. Only cut off the branches that are currently overhanging your property. Be care not to cut anything else away or damage the tree or you may be liable for this and owe your neighbour damages.
A lot of people wonder about who should pay for the cutting of the trees. Indeed, many believe it should be the neighbour since it is their tree. However, if this is your decision, you will need to pay for the services yourself. If you have spoken to your neighbour and you are on good terms with them, you may be able to reach an agreement.
At first, it may not be clear who a tree belongs to. Perhaps it sits on both sides of your property and you do not know whether it is you or your owner than has the tree. In this case, look for where the tree trunk has grown. This is going to show the land that the tree developed from. Ignore the branches and any overhanging parts of the tree.
The original property deeds of properties may also indicate who the tree belongs to. If there is no indication, you can try to share the responsibility with the other homeowner.
Your neighbour does not have an obligation to cut down the overhanging branches that are affecting your property. However, if their trees do begin to cause damage to your property, you may be able to sue your neighbour for damages. For example, if you have had to carry out repairs, it might be possible for you to get your money back for this process.
It is important to know the difference between damage caused by an overhanging tree or an ‘act of god’. For example, any damage that has resulted from a storm or other non-foreseeable event will not be the responsibility of your owner.
It is possible that your neighbour has large and overgrown trees that are blocking the sunlight into your property. The Rights of Light Act 1959 makes it clear that if your property has received daylight for the last 20 years, you should be able to continue and enjoy this sunlight. In other words, you can apply to the courts to ensure that your daylight is returned in a way that is fit.
A local planning authority can issue a tree preservation order. This is to ensure that specific trees are protected and they cannot be cut down or damaged in any way. Before you start to cut overhanging branches, it is best to check if the tree is protected by a tree preservation order. This should be done if you do not know the owner of the tree. You can check by contacting your local planning authority. They will be able to carry out an official search and see whether there is a tree preservation order that would prevent you touching this tree. otherwise, you risk getting in trouble.