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Your Rights on Trees & Overhanging Branches

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 16 Jun 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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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
My neighbor cut a bunch of branches off of his tree and left all of them on my side of the fence. Am I responsible for removing the branches?
Suezyq - 21-Mar-19 @ 10:16 PM
I live in council property tree in the garden has fell on neighbours fence and damaged private tenant fence who is responsible to pay to renew fence.
Kaz - 19-Mar-19 @ 12:12 PM
Tree in my council property garden has fell on neighbours fence who are homeowners who is responsible for paying for new fence
Kaz - 19-Mar-19 @ 12:09 PM
Neighbour at back of our garden has a 14m eucalyptus tree which overhangs our back garden considerably, blocking out light, shedding loads of leaves, bark and even heavy branches fall off, particularly in the Summer when our children are out there playing! The roots have broken by fence and are causing damage to our shed. It has a TPO on it and on the council website it says it was here before the houses were built. It really needs to be reduced in size both height and lateral branches. Whose responsible for applying to the council to get permission to have it cut back? If the council grant permission, whose responsible for paying for a tree surgeon to cut it? Urgently need your advice, DS
DS - 24-Feb-19 @ 11:13 AM
neighbour has a 60ft gum tree in yard for years this tree is shedding leaves in autumn (many leaves) into our yard. I have accepted situation up to now what can be an outcome to this situation
carts - 15-Feb-19 @ 3:22 AM
Hi, So Ive recently purchased a house and started to arrange the garden,what I’ve notice is that one of my neighbour has grown like pine trees all along the length of the garden(and I have a big garden) and the trees are very close one to another all along the fence and they are like5-6meters tall, this way that the sun doesn’treach my yard. And I don’t have sun during the day more than one meter due to these trees,is there any law that asks to cut them shorter so I can enjoy the sun in my garden? Thanks
Anca - 28-Jan-19 @ 2:24 PM
You recently stated that people are responsible for the fencing on the right hand side of the property, not true..I have seen a solicitor with the deeds of my property and it states shared...having bad problems with new neighbour on that side as I have during the years replaced panels on both sides and rear..now the concrete stumps have cracked and not holding panels. I have offered to go half ,even went as far as say I would buy them if he would put them in..no joy...any suggestions please.
Maggie - 12-Jan-19 @ 5:45 PM
Please Sir/Madam, We are still having a lot of problems washing birds droppings on our Cars parked on our drive way, DAILY.We are at No 6 and No 7 although family at No 8 suffers same problems but not as severe or as frequent as we do.The birds droppings are so strong it affects theCars paint Similar issues that affected Houses at No 31 and 32 Tansy Close E6 5NS, few weeks ago is now a thing of the past due to Newham Council decisiveaction, which is pleasing to us all.This is not the first time we highlighted these issues to the Council.However, it looks like those birds are now responsible for the increased intensities of birds droppings on our Cars and drive ways.Some of these birds droppings end up inside the house, picked up inadvertently with shoes into the house as you walk into the house, a form of health hazard. Please help us by also removing only this tree asap.We have other Newham Council trees in the back Garden areas that does NOT constitute nuisance. to residents. Many thanks for your valuable cooperation. Mr Maurice Udebhulu, T.A. Facilitator 03/01/2019
T.A. Facilitator - 3-Jan-19 @ 12:37 AM
Hi everyone almost month ago one company cut my tree from front garden i paid £500 included they take away the trees they cut.They said needs to be dry will get in 2 weeks which is pass already they not pick up phones or not respond my sms.What i have to do legaly?
Hereiam - 20-Dec-18 @ 1:46 PM
My issue is a Madrona rooted in my neighbors yard but the entire tree hangs over my yard and potentially could crush the whole kitchen at my house am I allowed to cut that tree down at the property line it would be at least 3/4 of the tree?
Jab - 16-Dec-18 @ 9:37 PM
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