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Your Rights on Trees & Overhanging Branches

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 14 Aug 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Rights On Trees Rights On Overhanging

Trees can add a great deal of splendour to a garden. They could be fruit bearing trees, a place in which to retreat to the shade and they can also add a great deal of colour to a garden. However, they can also cause a nuisance to a next door neighbour when they start encroaching onto your side of the fence, with problems ranging from attracting unwanted insects like bees and wasps, blocking out your light and shedding their leaves all over your garden. Therefore, it’s important to know what your rights are and what you can and cannot do.

Establishing Ownership of Trees

The tree belongs to the person upon whose land it has originally grown. Even if its branches or, worse still, its roots have begun to grow over or into a neighbour’s territory, it belongs to the landowner where the tree was originally planted. Even if the tree bears fruit or flowers on branches which overhang into your land, it’s an offence under the Theft Act 1968 to keep them or to take cuttings of flowers, for example.

Obviously, many neighbours will not tend to worry about that too much but should a neighbour, for example, see you collecting apples from their tree even though the branches have grown onto your side, they are legally entitled to ask you to return them.

Overhanging Branches

If the branches of a neighbour’s tree start to grow over to your side, you can cut them back to the boundary point between you and your neighbour’s property, as long as the tree is not under a tree preservation order. If it is, you’ll need to seek further clarification. However, the branches and any fruit on them which you may have cut down on your side still belong to the tree owner so they can ask you to return them.

It's a bit of an anomaly really, as while you are obliged to offer the branches back, if any leaves from your neighbour’s tree fall into your garden in autumn, you have no right to ask them to come around and sweep them up.

On the other hand, should the trees be causing SIGNIFICANT damage to your gutters (not just blocking them) you can ask your neighbour to pay to have them cleared or to pay for the cost of any damage they might have caused. If they refuse to do so, you can legally sue them and force them into paying. If you lop off any branches on your neighbour’s (the tree owner) side of the fence, you are not entitled to Gain Access To Their Property to cut off some more. This is trespassing and you could be prosecuted.

Tree Roots

You are entitled to dig up and remove any roots that have encroached upon your land. Roots can cause a lot of problems and if they’re deep and/or causing subsidence or any other form of damage to your side of the property, you might need to get a tree surgeon or some other kind of structural engineer to deal with the problem.

It’s always better to discuss this with your neighbour first but if an expert does have to be called in, it’s the tree owner’s responsibility to foot the bill. They can then choose to pay up front or by claiming it against their own home insurance policy.

Take Action

You may also be interested in our neighbour's trees action guide - written by a barrister

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[Add a Comment]
My neighbours trees braches are growing on to my side and I have been cutting them and disposing them. Can I throw the branches in to his garden as it is his tree
Zed - 13-Aug-19 @ 5:08 PM
We have a small hawthorn tree that sometimes hangs over a neighbour's parking space, but we have recently had it cut back to just behind the property boundary so that it is now entirely within our garden. However, the neighbour constantly complains about leaves falling onto his car. Are we responsible for the cleanliness of his car?
Jazzy - 7-Aug-19 @ 12:21 PM
We are housing association Tenants and the two flats next door (Also Housing Association Tenants) have ivy bush growing over our fence that we put up. This has hung over, destroyed and broken the fence panels and timber. Can I sue them for all the damaged caused to our broken fence panels, posts and plinth’s? We have already asked for them to sort this out but to no avail, where can we now go from here?
Pete - 6-Aug-19 @ 3:33 PM
What if I cut the branches back, but have no way to dispose of them, can I chuck them over the fence or pile them on their lawn? who has to dispose of them?
Andy - 25-Jul-19 @ 11:19 PM
My neighbour has me to cut back a shrub as it has grown tall and giving some shade in his garden. Am I obligated to do so, or it is up to my discretion?
CPD - 24-Jul-19 @ 7:29 AM
My neighbours climbing shrub is taking over my garden and killing my shrubs it is about five foot into my garden and very oppressive.I'm too old to get up a ladder as I used to and dispose of the twigs etc myself.If I cut down which is doable for me can a throw over their garden.Any ideas welcome.Thank you
Fedup - 13-Jul-19 @ 6:30 PM
Our rear neighbour is a housing association with a very high silver birch tree near the boundary which is causing several problems1/ the roots are approaching our property and spoiling our garden by standing above the natural land surface 2/ the light is now blocked from reaching our garden and rear windows for most of the year. 3/ there are numerous branches overhanging our property. 4/ the number of both leaves and twigs blowing / falling onto our garden and bungalow roof is taking many hours of work to clear. The neighbouring land is owned is by the Town council so we asked for an inspection by their representative who deals with such problems who said that he would normally arrange for the tree to be removed within a few days but, unfortunately the land is leased to the housing association so the council could not do anything. We then called in the housing association maintenance manager who said that he would not be spending any money on removing or trimming the tree. He would only arrange for a slight pruning which may allow a little more light through. He warned us that if we arranged for the overhanging branches to be cut, this could destabilise the tree and we would be sued for any resulting damage. We asked for the tree to be replaced by three small trees but he refused saying it was too costly. We told him that we were here before the neighbouring land was built on by the council who were considerate enough to ask each property owner (in about 1987) if they wanted to have trees planted near to their property which we declined. we think the offending tree was not planted but was allowed to grow as a result of a falling sapling. We also explained that the local council would be prepared to remove the tree but he was just not interested. Any suggestions would be welcome?
almar - 6-Jul-19 @ 11:46 AM
About eight years ago my local authority purchased the farmers' field adjacent to my 50-year-old bungalow and built a new school on it.Part of the approved plan provided for planting a screen of trees and shrubs along the boundary between bungalow and school. This was fine in theory but whoever designed the detail of the screening and/or carried out the planting paid no regard to the impact on my property. In particular, a willow tree was planted less than five metres from both one corner of the bungalow and from the line of the sewage drains which run parallel with, andless than one metre from, the boundary for about 12 metres. As willows are well known for rapid growth and extensive root systems which damage drains the planting feels almost like an act of deliberate vandalism on the landscapers' part, or at least gross negligence. There are signs that roots have begun to interfere with the drains. There were no trees in the vicinity prior to planting of the willow so it is almost certainly the culprit. What are my rights here? Can I demand removal of the willow? If not, can I ask for an undertaking that any damage to my property is put right by the school/local authority at their expense? Would the school's or LA's insurers consider them culpable for the damage?
Amadeus - 1-Jul-19 @ 12:04 PM
I live in a council bungalow which backs onto school grounds. Around the school are several sycamore trees which are fully grown the trees hang over the garden, house and conservatory.They are making a dreadful mess. I have on 3 occasions asked the school to cut them back or remove them which they refuse to do. Are they obliged to do this or can I have the overhanging branches removed myself or by the council.According to the law I can do this as long as I tell them what I indebted to do and give them the branches back if they want them. We are in our 70,s and are finding it harder each year to clean up the mess the trees make with falling sap etc Your advice would be apprecited
Jackie - 27-Jun-19 @ 2:05 PM
I don't know why we pay house and property taxes when we have ni rights or laws to protect us. My neighbors trees are breaking through my fence and roots coming onto my property. I am expecting to take care of their trees. They're trees are also reaching the power line and caused a fire in my back yard and I am told by the city it's nothing I can do. Can anyone help me
Patty - 21-Jun-19 @ 8:22 PM
My neighbors hired a third party to trim their tree.However, he never informed us that he would be cutting branches off of our tree.I understand that the bottom branches that overhang can be cut, but this guy cut all the way to the top of the tree so now it looks like I have a half of a tree.We were never informed in advance, and we never gave permission to have this done or even asked if we wanted to do it ourselves.We are both senior citizens and have never done anything to these neighbors.We also have a 6 foot fence between the properties and the tree was in no danger of falling.The neighbor told me it "bothered" her.I don't believe the trimmer is licensed or insured.We are planning a lawsuit.
Mom - 16-Jun-19 @ 1:39 PM
This is regarding my neighbours’s tree Overhanging branches in to my property. Am I allowed to throw the cutted branches back into their property. I have informed them several times about the overhanging branches, but they are not addressing the issue.
DJ - 11-Jun-19 @ 12:18 AM
the article says you have no right to pick fruit from branches overhanging from an adjoining property but it fails to state what the legal case is for fruit that falls off a tree onto your property
Ged_K - 6-Jun-19 @ 1:24 PM
I have a problem where neighbors are selling their home, both having great jobs and doing well financially. I'm a retired woman in my late-60's and there is a $1,000 bill to remove limbs and destructive roots encroaching on and causing structural damage to my home from their tree. Until she researched her responsibility to discover that she is, in fact, legally liable to take care of the $300 root grinding portion of the entire bill, she wouldn't talk to me about the problem. Now she will only pay $300 to avoid Small Claims Court action and the rest is being left to me. Our laws need to be revised for sure. Call your District Representative and demand a fair revision of our tree laws to protect innocent homeowners. But, I am writing because I am shocked at the audacity of those writing on this page about how mad they are at their neighbors for expecting them to be decent human beings and do the right thing to care for their own trees. The hatefulness displayed is unbelievable! Take some responsibility for your trees BEFORE but particularly AFTER they become a hazard to your neighbor! Is THAT how YOU want your neighbors to treat you?? Do to others as you would have them do to you--and be decent!
Disgusted - 1-Jun-19 @ 9:00 PM
I have a problem where neighbors are selling their home, both having great jobs and doing well financially. I'm a retired woman in my late-60's and there is a $1,000 bill to remove limbs and destructive roots encroaching on and causing structural damage to my home from their tree. Until she researched her responsibility to discover that she is, in fact, legally liable to take care of the $300 root grinding portion of the entire bill, she wouldn't talk to me about the problem. Now she will only pay $300 to avoid Small Claims Court action and the rest is being left to me. Our laws need to be revised for sure. Call your District Representative and demand a fair revision of our tree laws to protect innocent homeowners. But, I am writing because I am shocked at the audacity of those writing on this page about how mad they are at their neighbors for expecting them to be decent human beings and do the right thing to care for their own trees. The hatefulness displayed is unbelievable! Take some responsibility for your trees BEFORE but particularly AFTER they become a hazard to your neighbor! Is THAT how YOU want your neighbors to treat you?? Do to others as you would have them do to you--and be decent!
Disgusted - 1-Jun-19 @ 8:59 PM
My elderly parents live in a rented bungalow , the land and property s are owned by a housing association , they have just replaced a dangerous and rotten fence which is situated in front of their greenhouse , near the boundary line of the neighbouring property , when the old fence was taken down , we were able to get down the side of the greenhouse to remove all the debris which had collected there over the years , there were also some branches and leaves from the neighbours garden which had grown through the fence and started to interfere with the glass and frame of the greenhouse , some of the branches were already broken when they were removed , however the neighbour has accused my parents of cutting her branches that were in her garden , which they weren’t any advice would be helpful
Russy - 1-Jun-19 @ 4:45 PM
we have a huge rain tree overhanging the driveway our side that the neighbours grow on their side. We have asked twice that it be trimmed but no action has home and a silent 'war' response seems to be the way they want to answer. What rights do we have? if we trim it our side -must we m remove all the waste and pay the costs for getting a tree lopper in. the second trunk is like a huge umbrella covering our drive so branches drop on anyone walking underneath or driving plus in acyclone or major storm its likely to come down. have we any rights to ask QCAT to help? or must we just pay several thousand to get a major trim doneso we are safe?The neighbours have enough money but dont see the need to worry abou their tree since it is growing our way not theirs...it seems there isblindness about being responsbility but we remain pleasant to them
any answers? - 27-May-19 @ 4:33 AM
I live in a tree preservation order area there is a tree outside house the shrubs are coming in the garden can I trim them back so I get sunlight in the garden
Keeper - 23-May-19 @ 2:07 PM
My parents live in a housing association bungalow, the neighbours tree is huge and overhanging the green house , which belongs to my parents ,my father is elderly and very worried about the branches snapping and falling onto the glass , the neighbouring bungalow is also owned by the housing association , and he has been told by them that they will not trim the tree , where does the law stand if we trimmed it back , the neighbour is also very rude and nasty to my father when he is pottering in the garden , hope someone can give me some advice
Shorty - 22-May-19 @ 4:40 PM
Hi my beautiful garden is surrounded by trees that give me privacy and noise reduction from the road behind. The neighbour has cut over the boundary and cut beaches off my tree that were on my see of the boundary. What can I do to stop him? This is my tree and my privacy he's invading can he do this? Please help I'm at my wits end there were birds nesting in the tree!!
Gardenlover - 19-May-19 @ 7:21 PM
I have trees that grows at the back of my house cherrie tree. Over 35 years more trees have gtown over the councils fence. Causing me a great problem Have I the right to ask council to take them down.My house belongs to an housing associations. Thy put the originaltrees in. So this is how the others have been able to grow.So who is responsible my housing or the council
Sue - 13-May-19 @ 12:58 AM
Neighbor cut branches from my tree and threw into my yard. Is this allowed?
Gee - 9-May-19 @ 10:34 PM
My neighbor has demanded that I to trim ( pay to have trimmed ) the branches from MY tree that overhangs onto his driveway ( birds perch in the tree apparently and poo on his car ) Am I responsible for keeping my tree branches from over hanging into someone else’s property?
Bdereck - 2-May-19 @ 8:17 PM
A neighbours tree has it's branches hanging over a fence and blocking the public path. The landlord does not live there it's rented what can I do
Rayzor - 30-Apr-19 @ 1:17 PM
my next door neighbors trees are so close to the sharedfence now that the fence panels are parting and the gravel board has moved ..also the back fence is being pushed over to the gardens joining those gardens .one persons trees are ruining 3 other properties fence (
maria - 29-Apr-19 @ 1:40 PM
I cut the overhanging branches from my neightbors trees and threw them back over the fence to his side.They never cut their trees (6 of my side) and they make a huge mess in my yard.If I throw the branches over the fence to the owner, then he throws them back into my yard.This seems so unfair considering he won't trim his trees and I have to do it.The trees are also damaging my fence.
Jewlz - 28-Apr-19 @ 10:29 PM
Can roots be cut on one side of the fence causing the bush/tree to fall over
Ken - 20-Apr-19 @ 10:50 AM
I own the land around my home and the back of two others in the terrace. They have rights to cross to bins and their own gardens. I want to dig up some areas to lay drains from a garden room in my garden. How much notice must I give. I am aware that I must maintain safety.
Marym - 20-Apr-19 @ 8:47 AM
Hi, Just two days ago I received a letter from a neighbour whose back garden is joined to my left side of the fence. The neighbour had stated that my tree is too tall and needs to be cut down due to blocking of sunlight. I believe I have three houses on my left side whose back garden fence is joined to mine and his house is the second one. The tree is right at the back in the corner no where touching is garden. As it’s sunny today I have watched where the sunrises from. It’s between tree and the end house and goes above the house and eventually sets in the west diagonally. The sunlight only hits his window when it gradually moves during the day. Again the tree is no where. I am really having anxiety issues as keeps threatening me with legal actions. The tree had been there before I bought the house 13 years ago. We have never once received any complaints from him or anyone else matter of fact. I found out he had made the same compliant to two other properties. One of them in stress cut his tress when it was again no where near blocking any sunlight. Please can you give me some advice. Many Thanks
Jay - 19-Apr-19 @ 7:01 PM
Hi. I own a house where my neighbors. Tree.The whole trunk has burst through. A fence panel. And lifted. The concrete partout. .Where do I legally stand. ? When I first brought the house. The neighbor said the tree was protected. I have found out it isn’t. And asked about it. But turns. Our neighbor. Actually likes the. Tree for their own privacy .. any advice is greatly appreciated. And I live in. England. If that makes any difference
Patrick Hudson - 26-Mar-19 @ 7:27 PM
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