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My Rights Regarding my Neighbour's Trees?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 9 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Trees Tree Law Tree Preservation Orders

Q.

What are my rights about my neighbours very tall fir tree which is only about 5 yards from my property? The tree was already existing before my property was built.

I spoke to the owner and he made it clear that he does not want it cut. Please help as it might damage my property.

(Ms Gloria Wright, 10 September 2008)

A.

You don’t say where the problem lies here in terms of the potential damage it may cause to your property. However, if any of the tree's branches are overhanging Into your property, it is within your rights to cut these branches off, even if your neighbour has told you that he doesn’t want you to do so.

It doesn't matter if the tree was there before your property was built. The important thing here is to establish your property's boundary lines, which will be contained within the deeds to your property or by contacting the Land Registry office.

There are two provisos here, however:

  • Firstly, you must ensure that the tree in question is not protected by a tree preservation order. These orders are granted by your local authority’s environment department and make it illegal to fell, uproot, prune or lop off any part of a protected tree without the express consent of the local authority. Should you do that without permission and the tree was protected by a preservation order, you could be liable to a fine of up to £30,000 or twice the value of the timber of the tree, whichever was the greater.
  • Secondly, if you do have the right to chop off the offending branches, it is your duty to return them to your neighbour.

Recoup costs from neighbour

If the problem you’re experiencing lies within the tree’s roots, you are also entitled to remove any roots which are invading your property. If they are very deep, you could decide to get a professional to come in and remove them for you, and then recoup your costs by claiming on the tree owner’s household insurance policy.

What your neighbour is NOT liable for

One of the important things to remember is that your neighbour would not be liable for any damage caused to your property with respect to any fallen leaves that might damage your lawn, block your drains or block your gutters, nor can he be held responsible for any trips or slips caused by wet leaves on your driveway.

With a fir tree that doesn’t shed its leaves, however, this won’t present a problem, but it’s worth bearing in mind for those who may have similar problems with other types of trees owned by neighbours. In other words, apart from overhanging branches and potentially damaging roots, there are other legitimate reasons why you may seek to cut down part of neighbour’s tree which is encroaching upon your property or in danger of causing other damage to it.

The best suggestion is to have another chat with your neighbour and try to resolve the issue amicably. You may need to explain to him that you know your rights, and should they physically try to prevent you from removing parts of their tree which is on your property, then seek further advice from your local environment department.

There is a full Action Guide here which is a great reference point for further advice.

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[Add a Comment]
Milkman2 - Your Question:
My neighbour has a massive beech tree. The branches touch the roof of my house. One branch now directly overhangs my chimney. We have a wood burner so I am concerned about the fire risk. Who needs to pay for the tree to be pruned?

Our Response:
The tree owner is not responsible for cutting back these branches. If the tree is regularly inspected and maintained, the owner cannot be held liable for any damages (unless they were aware that the tree was unhealth etc).
ProblemNeighbours - 10-Aug-17 @ 12:46 PM
My neighbour has a massive beech tree.The branches touch the roof of my house. One branch now directly overhangs my chimney.We have a wood burner so I am concerned about the fire risk. Who needs to pay for the tree to be pruned?
Milkman2 - 9-Aug-17 @ 8:25 PM
taz - Your Question:
A neighbour at the end of my garden has cut down a fur tree which has left all the cones in my garden can I throw them back and what if he throws them back

Our Response:
No, don't throw them back, just put them in your usual green waste.
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Aug-17 @ 11:38 AM
a neighbour at the end of my garden has cut down a fur tree which has left all the cones in my garden can i throw them back and what if he throws them back
taz - 1-Aug-17 @ 10:27 PM
MadMo - Your Question:
Leylandi next doors drive way.130 feet long, some of the trunks are on my land stoping me from putting the fence in its proper place. they are over 25 feet tall and placed about 18 inches apart full of affides that leave a sticky residue over windows the owner refuses to do anything with them and when l cut some of the branches back which was about 12 feet long brought round a tin of abrorex and demanded I paint over cut l had made.plus l had no right to return the branches l had cut off.On approching the local council they want me to pay £450 -00 to investigate

Our Response:
You are entitled to cut off any branches that overhang your side of the boundary. In general you don't need to carry out additional "remedial" work to the cut. There is action you can take with regards to high hedges but yes, unfortunately you do have to pay for this. See our guide here
ProblemNeighbours - 28-Jul-17 @ 11:07 AM
Leylandi next doors drive way.130 feet long, some of the trunks are on my land stoping me from putting the fence in its proper place. they are over 25 feet tall and placed about 18 inches apart full of affides that leave a sticky residue over windows the owner refuses to do anything with them and when l cut some of the branches back which was about 12 feet long brought round a tin of abrorex and demanded I paint over cut l had made.plus l had no right to return the branches l had cut off.On approching the local council they want me to pay £450 -00 to investigate
MadMo - 25-Jul-17 @ 2:40 PM
hi my neighbour keeps helping herself to my plums i dont care about this but she keeps complaining for me to remove the tree completelyi give the friut to students and friends as well as make my crumbles how do i stand can she make me take my tree away
dungeon - 15-Jul-17 @ 5:47 PM
Sunshine- Your Question:
Our neighbours have a huge tree in their front garden, approximately 10-15metres high & 4metres away from our kitchen window and side of our house. It's roots are already making the council path outside wobbly with it's roots going underneath, both I & the neighbour the other side have asked if it could be pruned but they refuse? It's foliage is also blocking the other neighbours solar panels.Can we legally insist it's either pruned dramatically or removed?

Our Response:
No, you can't insist on them removing the tree. If you have evidence (provided by an expert) that the tree is likely to do damage to your property, you must make them aware of this; if any damage then occurs the tree owner will be liable for the damage. As neighbours, you are entitled to cut back any branches that overhang your side of the boundary. Your neighbour (the tree owner) does not have to pay for this. The same applies to your other neighbour with the solar panels...they can cut back anything that overhangs their side of the boundary. The roots of an already established tree are unlikely to damage drains or foundations of nearby properties and the path is of course the council's responsibility to investigate.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Jun-17 @ 10:41 AM
Our neighbours have a huge tree in their front garden, approximately 10-15metres high & 4metres away from our kitchen window and side of our house. It's roots are already making the council path outside wobbly with it's roots going underneath, both I & the neighbour the other side have asked if it could be pruned but they refuse? It's foliage is also blocking the other neighbours solar panels. Can we legally insist it's either pruned dramatically or removed?
Sunshine - 10-Jun-17 @ 8:26 AM
Lisa - Your Question:
A neighbour has 2 x 60ft conifers in her garden which are overhanging 1 garden, are pulling down the fencing, they are ruining numerous gardens by restricting light and bits from the trees are wrecking our lawns, we can't grow anything as they suck all the moisture out of the ground so 5 of the neighbours have offered to pay to get them cut down but she is refusing saying her garden might get damaged when they come down, tbh her garden is a state with 7 dogs and 6 cats, can we force her to get them cut down ?

Our Response:
You can try the High Hedges Legislation - this deals purely with the height issue and the trees must be evergreen (there must be more than one tree as well). This won't solve the problem of the roots, about which there isn't a great deal you can do unless you ca prove that they are dangerous/damaging.
ProblemNeighbours - 30-May-17 @ 2:30 PM
A neighbour has 2 x 60ft conifers in her garden which are overhanging 1 garden, are pulling down the fencing, they are ruining numerous gardens by restricting light and bits from the trees are wrecking our lawns, we can't grow anything as they suck all the moisture out of the ground so 5 of the neighbours have offered to pay to get them cut down but she is refusing saying her garden might get damaged when they come down, tbh her garden is a state with 7 dogs and 6 cats,can we force her to get them cut down ?
Lisa - 28-May-17 @ 2:47 PM
Shiny - Your Question:
I have a long line of partially dead trees running up most of my driveway. They were planted by previous owners of my house and are on my side of the boundary. I wanted to have them removed as they are an eyesore and I am wanting to get the driveway re-done which would include putting something else in place of the trees. My neighbours have objected as they like the privacy and have said that a structural engineer has told them that the trees that have damaged their wall but that if they are removed it will damage it further as the roots are running through it and I would be liable for that. I don't want to fall out with anyone. Please advise!

Our Response:
Get your own surveyor to have a look, it sounds unlikely that root damage would be made worse if the trees were removed. The neighbour's privacy isn't your responsibility either.
ProblemNeighbours - 3-May-17 @ 2:22 PM
I have a long line of partially dead trees running up most of my driveway. They were planted by previous owners of my house and are on my side of the boundary. I wanted to have them removed as they are an eyesore and I am wanting to get the driveway re-done which would include putting something else in place of the trees. My neighbours have objected as they like the privacy and have said that a structural engineer has told them that the trees that have damaged their wall but that if they are removed it will damage it further as the roots are running through it and I would be liable for that. I don't want to fall out with anyone. Please advise!
Shiny - 3-May-17 @ 10:39 AM
will - Your Question:
I inherited my dads bungalow when he died in 2015 , just before he died he arranged to cut down a tree that was in his garden , after he died I hade the trunk and roots removed , march this year the neighbour put in a claim for damages to her garden fence and shed saying the roots were damageing her garden claiming approx £5000 and saying I'm to blame and liable is this true ?I now have been threatened with court proceeding against me?? where do I stand?

Our Response:
No, the owner of the tree is only liable if they aware that the tree or roots are dangerous. A neighbour has the right to cut back any roots and overhanging branches as far as the boundary if they are causing problems (the owner doesn't have to pay for this). It's extremeley unlikely this claim will succeed - speak to a solicitor for advice.
ProblemNeighbours - 27-Apr-17 @ 11:02 AM
My neighbour who lives on the ground floor has two trees which have grown, covering our windows on the first floor and is restricting our view of the hills from two rooms. She refuses to cut them. What can we do"
Turtle - 26-Apr-17 @ 9:11 PM
i inherited my dadsbungalow when he died in 2015 , just before he died he arranged to cut down a tree that was in his garden , after he died I hade the trunk and roots removed , march this year the neighbour put in a claim for damages to her garden fence and shed saying the roots were damageing her garden claiming approx £5000 and saying I'm to blame and liable is this true ?.I now havebeenthreatened with court proceeding against me?? where do I stand?
will - 26-Apr-17 @ 4:07 PM
I rent a house out and my tenants want to move a shed to a different part of the garden, the problem is the neighbours tree is overhanging by a great deal and is quite near the gutter of our house. I did ask the estate agent over 12 months ago if they could help as it is also a rented house. The landlord contacted my husband and asked if we could get a quote for him, which we did. The landlord was surprised at the estimate thinking it was too high so my husband gave him the contact details of the particular tree surgeon and left it with him. 12 months on, we have not heard anything from the landlord and are desperate to sort this problem out for our very good tenants and do not know what to do. The tree is too large for us to tackle and in our opinion needs to be done by a professional.
Lucky - 24-Apr-17 @ 4:29 PM
Anthony - Your Question:
Hi. In my front garden I have a fence along the side of my paved blocked driveway. In my neighbors firing garden they have 3 small (ish) trees growing from seedling so they have not been deliberately planted. These trees as they are growing the girth of the tree is breaking my fence (which is my responsibility) but as I will take the fence down I will not be able to put it back up in the same place. Do I have the right to get them cut down or what other solutions are there without me losing land?

Our Response:
You can cut any growth that's on your side of the boundary and also cut back any roots that are on your side. That might help you re-construct your fence but it's likely to get damaged again. Talk to you neighbours about the trees and the future of the fence. Between you, hopefully you can come to some solution.
ProblemNeighbours - 27-Mar-17 @ 12:03 PM
Hi. In my front garden I have a fence along the side of my paved blocked driveway. In my neighbors firing garden they have 3 small (ish) trees growing from seedling so they have not been deliberately planted. These trees as they are growing the girth of the tree is breaking my fence (which is my responsibility) but as I will take the fence down I will not be able to put it back up in the same place. Do I have the right to get them cut down or what other solutions are there without me losing land?
Anthony - 25-Mar-17 @ 5:15 PM
SJ - Your Question:
Ok so a bit of a long one. My neighbours daughter moved a few houses up from them. She had conifers in her front garden anyway my neighbour helped cut them down and took them away. now I've been clearing out the bottom of my garden (was very over grown when I moved in 3 years ago and has taken some time) got to the corner and low and behold I have freshly cut down conifers in my garden. I know it's from them but I can't prove it. What can I do? Should I mover them onto the back of my neighbours property it was after all them who put it in my garden!

Our Response:
No, as you say, you can't prove it was them. Why provoke an argument unnecessarily. If you're clearing the area anyway, just clear them as well. If necessary you could mention it to your neighbour that it's taken longer to clear because other people seem to have been using it dump their garden waste ;-0
ProblemNeighbours - 2-Mar-17 @ 10:50 AM
Diynut - Your Question:
I need to prune the overhanging branches of my neighbours tree.My neighbour insists this must be done by a qualified tree surgeon. Must I comply with her demand, or is it legal to get it done privately without a cert?

Our Response:
There's nothing so specific in the common law regarding cutting back overhanging branches unfortunately. The two things to consider are: (1) the tree is the property of your neighbour, so if it's damaged or compromised in any way by amateur pruning then you can be held responsible. (2) The branches of the neighbour's tree are intruding into your property (trespassing) and you do have the right to remove them. We're afraid you're going to have to use your own judgement bearing the above scenarios in mind.
ProblemNeighbours - 2-Mar-17 @ 10:46 AM
I need to prune the overhanging branches of my neighbours tree. My neighbour insists this must be done by a qualified tree surgeon. Must I comply with her demand, or is it legal to get it done privatelywithout a cert?
Diynut - 28-Feb-17 @ 3:57 PM
Ok so a bit of a long one. My neighbours daughter moved a few houses up from them. She had conifers in her front garden anyway my neighbour helped cut them down and took them away.... now I've been clearing out the bottom of my garden (was very over grown when I moved in 3 years ago and has taken some time) got to the corner and low and behold I have freshly cut down conifers in my garden. I know it's from them but I can't prove it. What can I do? Should I mover them onto the back of my neighbours property it was after all them who put it in my garden!
SJ - 16-Feb-17 @ 7:24 PM
We had an apple tree growing from the graveyard next door into our garden (roots in the graveyard). This had to be felled as it was rotten (old & well established) and we put the cut logs over the wall into the, not maintained or used, graveyard; we have now been fined £400.00 for fly-tipping. Do we have cause to appeal against this fine?
Fat Dave - 1-Feb-17 @ 10:13 AM
very tall trees stoping the sun coming in to my garden until mid day ' the treesareused as a hedgerow is there anything I can do to get them cut to half size
nobby - 23-Jan-17 @ 10:54 AM
I have several trees where the branches grow over my neighbours property at a height of 6 ft and above.The area they grow over has been used to store refuse bins and for car parking.Recently they have built a plinth to the height of about 5 or 6 ft on top of which is a large oil tank, currently empty.Some branches of my trees have already been cut back but others are still touching the tank.I asked my neighbour about the plans for the tank as it is an eyesore in its present state and being quite close to my front gate detracts from the appearance of my house.I was informed that the tank and plinth would be cladded and that the tree branches would be cut back to protect her tank.While I understand that she is legally entitled to cut back my tree branches to the boundary (half way across a stone wall) I am not happy that we were not advised or consulted about this before it happened.I do not want the trees to be reduced in height as this would remove some more of our privacy.Do I have any rights?
Jaydee22 - 29-Dec-16 @ 1:39 PM
I have a conifer that borders my neoghbours property.She is constantly complaining about it.I keep telling her that it provides privacy for my daughter bedroom, my neighbour is insisting I cut it down. Do I have a legal right to protect my daughters privacy
Sepura - 21-Dec-16 @ 4:36 PM
We recently moved into our house.While our house was empty before we moved in our neighbours (owners of a large victorian house) have heavily coppiced three trees in their front garden (which is behind our rear garden).The trees fell down and broke a fence in our garden which they had fixed (very badly) in the wrong colour wood. Also we are jointly responsible for the wall which borders are properties and looks victorian.There is a tree that has grown directly next to the wall and it has severely bowed the wall pushing it dangerously onto our land.More worrying is that the tree is very mature and is one meter from our garage and two metres from our neighbours lovely victorian house.We have yet to meet our neighbours are anxious about what to say to our neighbours? The wall is so damaged that we are considering sectioning this bit of our garden to prevent our children from going near it.
Soph - 27-Nov-16 @ 11:30 PM
Hi I stay in a two storey flat have lived there now for 20yrs. My neighbours have also lived there about the same time and they have a tree in their garden which has now grown so tall I can hardly see out my window and now restricts the light coming in. I did ask them to cut it and they did this on one occasion two years ago. The tree is now even higher than before and I did ask again nicely if they cut it but to no avail! I sent them a nice letter asking them again and enclosed a picture of what I see from my lounge window hoping that they would consider cutting it down a bit. I also offered to pay to have it cut as I know it can be expensive. I would like to know where I stand on this and I do know I can't just go into their garden and cut it, can the council make them trim it to the level of my sill which would make a big difference. It's a blossom tree.
Rosiekane - 17-Oct-16 @ 10:24 PM
We have quite a large garden of which we have 3 eucalyptus trees at the bottom. The land at the bottom has had a house built on which has been built very close to the boundary, as a result the trees in the future may pose a problem! Why should they be allowed to do that?, because they decide to build a house close to the boundary that we may have to lose our trees. Also the trees are a privacy factor.
Juhomie - 14-Oct-16 @ 8:15 AM
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