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My Rights Regarding my Neighbour's Trees?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 24 Sep 2018 | 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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Our neighbours have three conifer trees about 100 feet tall in their garden. The pine needles cover our garden wen the wind blows. We have asked the neighbours to lop the trees, but the refuse. The needles also block another neghbours gutters which overflow into our garden. Is it possible to lop conifers successfully and what is the law regaeding the pine needle nuisance. We have offered to help with the cost of cutting down the trees, but been rebuffed.
Grandmapat - 24-Sep-18 @ 3:14 PM
Hi, my neighbour has a 9 metre high sycamore in the corner of his garden approximately 6 metres from the corner of my property. I have gained planning permission for an extension and when the building inspector has come to check the foundations which have been dug ready for the building to start, he has advised the foundations on the new extension need to be deeper and the original extension (which I am extending on top of) Needs to be underpinned unless the sycamore is removed. I have approached my neighbour and offered to pay to have the sycamore removed and a new tree put in its place which is not aggressive and will not affect my property. He is dragging his heels and is very reluctant. My question is where would I stand on removing the roots of the sycamore on my land and adding a root barrier? And would this help. Thanks
Dee - 23-Sep-18 @ 3:39 PM
Hi, Neighbour's tree hanging in our garden or above our house is big problem all over the country. I think whatever we own, it's our responsibility to take care of it and should not make any problem to other by it. I have same problem, neighbours tree hanging in front of my house. Tree leaves falls every time in my drive way. Neighbour's tree make me cleaning my drive way everyday & pay £60 to tree surgeon every year. I am helpless to avoid this things. I thing the law about Neighbour tree problem need to be changed.
Vin - 12-Sep-18 @ 10:17 AM
My Neighbour has a popular tree growing in the garden less than a meter from my house. The roots have got in to my drains and blocked them. The roots have also lifter my tarmac and I’m worried they are damaging my house. I have spoken to my neighbour about it and he doesn’t seam bothered and isn’t keen on having it cut down. Where do I stand on making him have it cut down ? Also do I have any readdress with them for any of the damage to my property ?
Hilly - 23-Aug-18 @ 11:33 PM
There is a piece of land to the side of my house which in the 15 years I have lived there has never been attended to by council etc . In the garden which backs onto this land there is an oak tree which overhangs onto this land . I would like to cut back the oak tree branches to the boundary of the tree owner . Can I do this ? The land does not look to be registered although it was originally ear marked as retained land to be maintained by the developer of the estate in the 80's ( info I've seen on a hand drawn plan from the builders ) so not sure how accurate that info is. The land isn't on any council map of its responsibilities for maintenance. I approached the tree owner a few years ago to ask if we could gain access to her garden to cut the branches back as her garden is on a higher level to ours and we couldn't reach them as the tree is huge but she refused. We have had a tree surgeon come out and cut back to our boundary but it would make such a difference if we could cut it back on this piece of land so just wanted to check of were allowed to do this ?
ejlenno - 16-Aug-18 @ 4:32 PM
Have a twisted willow in a neighbouring garden approximately 1.7metres from my building line. I am not certain but I think the property is rented. My concern is the roots if they get near to my foundations and drainage added to which this tree grows at an alarming rate. Have already spoken to the guy in the property and he agreed that l could trim any over hanging branches. Easier said than done as it is already half as high again as my property.
Rods - 26-Jul-18 @ 6:52 PM
Rob - Your Question:
My neighbour has 3 huge trees planted on the boundary line. Ranging between 2 - 6ft away from our house. 2 of the trees grown onto our roof and has caused a problem with moss now forming. The seedlings and leaves constantly block our gutters. A branch fell of in a storm and smashed our greenhouse. We have had a soak away and pipe replaced because the roots from one of their trees which is a willow had grown up them. 1 of the trees is twice the height of our house and I'm really concerned as we had a storm several months ago and a tree across the road the same height came crashing down and destroyed the sidewalk. We have 2 young baby in our house and I'm concerned that if we get another storm their tree which is angled towards are house will crash through our roof. We have route to them and they had their gardener come out who said the trees are safe. However they are a constant problem and have caused damaged to our property and yet they refuse to remove them. Our local council are also a bit useless and never reply to any requests. We are looking to move mainly because of the trees but this had been a family home passed down from my grandad and mum and it would be a shame to leave it.

Our Response:
You can try and claim via your household insurance for the damage already done. If they trees have been declared safe by a qualified arboriculturalist then it's unlikely that they will fall onto you property. You can cut back any roots or overhanging branches as far as your boundary. You could also consider private legal action for the nuisance caused by the trees if it is significant, but you should seek professional legal advice about this.
ProblemNeighbours - 23-Jul-18 @ 3:08 PM
My neighbour has 3 huge trees planted on the boundary line. Ranging between 2 - 6ft away from our house. 2 of the trees grown onto our roof and has caused a problem with moss now forming. The seedlings and leaves constantly block our gutters. A branch fell of in a storm and smashed our greenhouse. We have had a soak away and pipe replaced because the roots from one of their trees which is a willow had grown up them. 1 of the trees is twice the height of our house and I'm really concerned as we had a storm several months ago and a tree across the road the same height came crashing down and destroyed the sidewalk. We have 2 young baby in our house and I'm concerned that if we get another storm their tree which is angled towards are house will crash through our roof. We have route to them and they had their gardener come out who said the trees are safe.However they are a constant problem and have caused damaged to our property and yet they refuse to remove them. Our local council are also a bit useless and never reply to any requests. We are looking to move mainly because of the trees but this had been a family home passed down from my grandad and mum and it would be a shame to leave it.
Rob - 20-Jul-18 @ 10:05 AM
With regard to 'offering' the cut branches back to the neighbour: this aspect of the law I cannot find clear cut. A neighbour's oak tree for example has two thirds of its branches overhanging into my garden blocking out sunlight and causing mountains of leaves in the autumn. The neigbour refuses to cut back the overhanging branches so I pay for the work to be carried out myself. I must offer the cut branches back to the neighbour and - my question is? If the neighbour does not wish to have them back, can I enforce him/her to take them? I have paid to have the overhanging branches cut - am I doubly forced to pay for their removal? If so, why on earth should I be forced to pay for the removal of what is the neighbour's property?. CuthbertR
CuthbertR - 16-Jul-18 @ 2:06 PM
Neighbours sumac tree sprouting shoots on our grass and rui ING it. Advise. Please on how I legally stand and how to get rid of them
Poppy - 14-Jul-18 @ 11:45 PM
mads - Your Question:
My neighbor has sent me a letter asking me to cut back overhanging branches from my tree as when the leaves shed they fall on his lawn. I wrote back and told him said that he can prune the overhanging branches to reduce the volume of leaves falling on his lawn and keep or dispose of the garden waste himself. He then wrote back giving me:-1. For me to cut back the offending branches from my side as they originate from my property.2. For me to employ a professional tree surgeon to address the overhanging branches.Do I have to do this? My tree is not very big and his concern is leaves falling seasonally. Legally where do stand on this issue?Thank you

Our Response:
You're not obliged to do this. See ourguide here
ProblemNeighbours - 29-Jun-18 @ 3:17 PM
My neighbor has sent me a letter asking me to cut back overhanging branches from my tree as when the leaves shed they fall on his lawn. I wrote back and told him said that he can prune the overhanging branches to reduce the volume of leaves falling on his lawn and keep or dispose of the garden waste himself. He then wrote back giving me:- 1. For me to cut back the offending branches from my side as they originate from my property. 2. For me to employ a professional tree surgeon to address the overhanging branches. Do I have to do this? My tree is not very big and his concern is leaves falling seasonally. Legally where do stand on this issue? Thank you
mads - 28-Jun-18 @ 11:41 AM
Berni - Your Question:
My neighbour has a very huge Ash tree, almost the height of our house. The shade covers 2/3 of the bottom of my garden. Also, I shared the cost of the joint wall due to tree roots pushing it down. I now have roots penetrating my large garden shed substantial concrete base causing a large crack. I am unable to reach any of the tree, can I ask my neighbour to remove the tree?

Our Response:
You can cut back the roots as far as the boundary. You don't have a right to sunlight in your garden. If you feel the tree is dangerous or likely to cause damage, please read our guide here which gives more information.
ProblemNeighbours - 26-Jun-18 @ 3:41 PM
Dee - Your Question:
My Neighbour has A very tall poplar tree in his garden well over100ft my concern is that when we have high winds one day it will break on go straight through my roof its a semi so it would cause damage to 2 houses he also has high conifer hedging which he doesnt maintain Is there anything I can do Regards Denise

Our Response:
This if from our action guide:
" If you are concerned that a tree is diseased or damaged and poses a danger due to having fallen, or being at risk of falling, you should contact the owner of the land on which the tree is growing. If the land belongs to the local council, contact them to request that the tree is cut down or pruned. If you are unable to contact the land owner or they refuse to take action, contact your local council's Environmental Health Office. The owner is not under any legal duty to take action, but will be liable if a tree they knew to be damaged caused damage to Property or injury to a person.
As prevention is often better than waiting for damage or injury to occur however, the Environmental Health Office may be able to invoke the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 if the tree poses an immediate risk to Property or people. This allows them to serve notice on the land owner to make the tree safe. If they fail to do so, the Environmental Health Office may undertake this work themselves. The land owner would then usually be charged for any gardening required."
ProblemNeighbours - 25-Jun-18 @ 3:08 PM
Chip - Your Question:
After recent storms a large branch on a neighbours tree is hanging dangerously over our garden,if this was to fall it potentially kill a child if it landed on them.Who is resposible for removing the branch which would probably need done by a tree surgeon.

Our Response:
If you are concerned that a treeposes a danger, talk to the owner. The owner is not under any legal duty to take action, but will be liable if a tree they knew to be dangerous caused damage to property or injury to a person. As prevention is often better than waiting for damage or injury to occur however, the Environmental Health Office may be able to invoke the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 if the tree poses an immediate risk to Property or people. This allows them to serve notice on the land owner to make the tree safe. If they fail to do so, the Environmental Health Office may undertake this work themselves.
ProblemNeighbours - 25-Jun-18 @ 2:24 PM
My neighbour has a very huge Ash tree, almost the height of our house. The shade covers 2/3 of the bottom of my garden. Also, I shared the cost of the joint wall due to tree roots pushing it down. I now have roots penetrating my large garden shed substantial concrete base causing a large crack. I am unable to reach any of the tree, can I ask my neighbour to remove the tree?
Berni - 24-Jun-18 @ 2:57 PM
My Neighbour has A very tall poplar tree in his garden well over100ft my concern is that when we have high winds one day it will break on go straight through my roof its a semi so it would cause damage to 2 houses he also has high conifer hedging which he doesnt maintain Is there anything I can do Regards Denise
Dee - 23-Jun-18 @ 6:33 PM
My neighbour has a very tall tree (taller than my house) with overhanging branches encroaching my property line, blocking all my light and the branches themselves are huge. As the neighbour is a council tenant, I arranged for a representative to come over to make a general inspection, after which they were unable to mark the tree branches as a danger.However my fear is the sheer size of it could cause a health and safety hazard and I would much rather have peace of mind and prevent any danger to me or my family in the first place. Although there appears to be nothing wrong with the tree's health, do I have the right to demand that they arrange for it to be seen by an Aborist? Is there anything I can do?
Soph - 23-Jun-18 @ 4:52 PM
After recent storms a large branch on a neighbours tree is hanging dangerously over our garden,if this was to fall itpotentially kill a child if it landed on them.Who is resposible for removing the branch which would probably need done by a tree surgeon.
Chip - 23-Jun-18 @ 7:30 AM
My neighbour, who I do not get on with regarding parking and blocking me in, has a common willow tree (not weeping) with the trunk right against the fence on their side so a lot of branches hang over my garden on my south facing side putting most of my garden in shade. It is approx 20 foot high and very fast growing. Also all the leaves and catkins cover my lawn, I have to wait until he is on holiday as he swears at me, before I trim all the branches. over my side and can only reach the lower part of the tree.. He also has a very dead and bare eucalyptus near the fence also very tall which will fall one day. I am putting my house up for sale which is drastic, but he is vile.
willy wontee - 10-Jun-18 @ 9:58 PM
My neighbours planted several silver birch trees very close to the boundary fence between our properties.The deeds of the house state that we are responsible for that particular boundary but their trees have grown in width so much they have broken 'our' fence in numerous places and part of the tree trucks are now on my property.What can we do?
ShellieEllie - 27-May-18 @ 9:27 PM
Our neighbour has around 12 self seeded I think ash trees down the drive on there side . Our drive will end up with no Sun due to the size . One at moment is around 50ft. Ourgarage is only 3ft away we have asked for them to cut them down but refused this was 3yrs ago .
Karen - 27-May-18 @ 6:24 PM
TVM - Your Question:
The house behind my garden has a LARGE chestnut tree right at my fence, which is lovely but I am most concerned about the size of it - it looks bigger than those seen in Bushy Park.My concern is that if it falls/breaks not only will it cause considerable damage to my property but it will most likely kill my child who has a bedroom at the back and the tree is very close to his room.What are my rights as the neighbour REFUSES to cut or trim it down as it is too large.

Our Response:
Is there any reason why it would fall down? Does it look diseased? Has the neighbour had it checked by an arboriculturalist?
ProblemNeighbours - 15-May-18 @ 12:01 PM
The house behind my garden has a LARGE chestnut tree right at my fence, which is lovely but I am most concerned about the size of it - it looks bigger than those seen in Bushy Park. My concern is that if it falls/breaks not only will it cause considerable damage to my property but it will most likely kill my child who has a bedroom at the back and the tree is very close to his room. What are my rights as the neighbour REFUSES to cut or trim it down as it is too large.
TVM - 11-May-18 @ 1:46 PM
RJ - Your Question:
The gardens for the houses on my street are staggered so some of my neighbors garden is directly behind some of my house. They have attached a trellis to my house and have grown a plant up it which now goes into the waves of the roof. We’re not on good terms with them and they were extremely obstructive when I had to use their garden to fix a leak on a velux window. Where do I stand on getting them to remove the plant/trellis or at least cutting the plant back so it doesn’t go into my roof?

Our Response:
Your neighbours should not be attaching anything to your property so you are within your rights to ask for removal of the trellis/plants. If they refuse you could try third party mediation or the courts. As for access to repair your property on the side of the neighbour's garden, check your deeds; we imagine that this is the kind of thing that would be address therein.
ProblemNeighbours - 11-May-18 @ 11:34 AM
The gardens for the houses on my street are staggered so some of my neighbors garden is directly behind some of my house. They have attached a trellis to my house and have grown a plant up it which now goes into the waves of the roof. We’re not on good terms with them and they were extremely obstructive when I had to use their garden to fix a leak on a velux window. Where do I stand on getting them to remove the plant/trellis or at least cutting the plant back so it doesn’t go into my roof?
RJ - 9-May-18 @ 8:37 PM
My question looks all garbled as the layout has changed - I hope it can be understood
SusieQ - 24-Apr-18 @ 10:58 AM
I am having a problem with a new neighbour who insists that my climbers which are now overhanging her garden are my responsibility as they are my plants. Out of kindness I have so far paid £30 to have ivy & honeysuckle cut off our front hedge on her side and spent over an hour with her mother cutting back clematis armandii . I have explained that legally it is up to her to maintain her property as she wants it and said that I will lend her the tools but she no longer has a legal right to return the clippings to me.. Now she is throwing clippings over the fence on a daily basis. I am elderly and not very well so this is very stressful. I looked at your website for advice and am now totally confused. Please can you tell me where I can read the actual legislation. Thank you Susanna Taylor Jeff Durham 16 April 2018 “Secondly, if you do have the right to chop off the offending branches, it is your duty to return them to your neighbour” Abigail Taylor 23 April 2018 “Cutting back trees You have a common law right to cut back tree branches that overhang onto your property. It is however always best to discuss with your neighbour about any trees / hedges you wish to cut back before doing so. The law states that any branches cut off belong to the person on whose land the tree originally grew, so you should ask your neighbour if they want them back, or if they are happy for you to dispose of them. Do not just throw trimmings back over the boundary - this could constitute 'fly tipping'. Ask your neighbour whether they would like any trimmings back” .
SusieQ - 24-Apr-18 @ 10:54 AM
Barry - Your Question:
Next doors silver birch its 5 pannels away from our house its on the left as I look out from our back patio door I have cut back anything that hangs over or comes my way over the last 30 years so all the weight is on the other side. next door have had a tree surgen out a couple of times over the years and have trimmed some branches back but not that much. ,About 12/15 years ago we replaced all the panels nine in total and shared the cost her husband was alive at the time and he said as it was pushing the post over Thats the 5th post up away from the house that they would have to do something with the tree,Unfortunatley he has now died and nothing got done the lady next door is on her own. At the moment the post has been pushed my way by about 6 inches the panels on Both sides of that post have fallen out and one of the concrete panels are splitting with the weight from the tree and my pathway has been pushed up,I went round in January and tried to explain to her the post needs resetting and all the panels need replacing the 4th panel on her side has her ivy all over it so when I come to replace that panel the ivy is going to all fall to the ground as its interwoven and stuck to the old panel.My next problem will be the roots on my side not only the post thats been pushed over but also my path is up and some of the roots are showing in my lawn and grass the lady next door has got no intensions of doing anything about this tree if I had not trimmed the tree over the last 30 years it would now be so high and out of control it doesn't bear thinking about when the winds are blowing my way towards our Home My Children both slept in that back bedroom but thankfully I have kepted it under control.Over the next coming weeks/month I am going to replace the concrete post and all the panels I don't think she will contribute towards any cost they don't talk to me or my wife her husband when he was alive did talk he was a nice Man I liked him, she has other family that don't live there but call around I suppose they only see one side and have never spoken to me or my wife at all over 30 years living here not even hello.Anyway I am a bit concerned that when I cut back all the roots on my side by the way the girth of the tree is about 1 maybe 2 inches away from the back of the fence how stable the tree will then be should it go over now or later in the winter winds will I then be responsible should it ever fall its not going to fall my way. Just to let you know I will be 61 in June and have undergone open heart surgery all this is a problem I could do without and I am being made out to be the one in the wrong for trying to keep things looking nice in my garden.

Our Response:
Could you ask a tree surgeon or arboriculturalist to take a look at the tree and let you know what impact cutting the roots back might have? If you ask them to do the work, their own insurance might cover any damage caused too. If you have notified the neighbour (the tree owner) of the damage caused by the tree or its roots (or its potential to cause damage), you can sue the neighbour for the cost of putting things right.
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Apr-18 @ 9:52 AM
next doors silver birch its 5 pannels away from our house its on the left as I look out from our back patio door I have cut back anything that hangs over or comes my way over the last 30 years so all the weight is on the other side. next door have had a tree surgen out a couple of times over the years and have trimmed some branches back but not that much. ,About 12/15 years ago we replaced all the panels nine in total and shared the cost her husband was alive at the time and he said as it was pushing the post over Thats the 5th post up away from the house that they would have to do something with the tree,Unfortunatley he has now died and nothing got done the lady next door is on her own. At the moment the post has been pushedmy way by about 6 inches the panels on Both sides of that post have fallen out and one of the concrete panels are splitting with the weight from the tree and my pathway has been pushed up,I went round in January and tried to explain to her the post needs resetting and all the panels need replacing the 4th panel on her side has her ivy all over it so when I come to replace that panel the ivy is going to all fall to the ground as its interwoven and stuck to the old panel.My next problem will be the roots on my side not only the post thats been pushed over but also my path is up and some of the roots are showing in my lawn and grass the lady next door has got no intensions of doing anything about this tree if I had not trimmed the tree over the last 30 years it would now be so high and out of control it doesn't bear thinking about when the winds are blowing my way towards our Home My Children both slept in that back bedroom but thankfully I have kepted it under control .Over the next coming weeks/month I am going to replace the concrete post and all the panels I don't think she will contribute towards any cost they don't talk to me or my wife her husband when he was alive did talk he was a nice Man I liked him, she has other family that don't live there but call around I suppose they only see one side and have never spoken to me or my wife at all over 30 years living here not even hello.Anyway I am a bit concerned that when I cut back all the roots on my side by the way the girth of the tree is about 1 maybe 2 inches away from the back of the fence how stable the tree will then be should it go over now or later in the winter winds will I then be responsible should it ever fall its not going to fall my way. Just to let you know I will be 61 in June and have undergone open heart surgery all this is a problem I could do without and I am being made out to be the one in the wrong for trying to keep things looking nice in my garden.
Barry - 16-Apr-18 @ 10:11 AM
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