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My Rights Regarding my Neighbour's Trees?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 26 Apr 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]
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
Marie Marie - Your Question:
My neighbour has several trees which have died. The dead branches, still partially attached, (20-30 foot in length) are now over-hanging into my garden. Who is responsible for the cost of removing the dead branches? Thanks for any advice.

Our Response:
Advise the neighbour that the trees or some of the branches have died and look as though they're going to fall. The neighbour can be held liable for any damage done by their tree to your property but only if they were aware of the problem beforehand - so it's important that you make them aware of this.
ProblemNeighbours - 12-Oct-16 @ 2:14 PM
Ruaraidh - Your Question:
There is a 27 metre long stone wall separating my house from my neighbour's. The wall is about 3 metres from my house. On my neighbour's side of the wall there are 8 mature lime trees and 1 beech, all of which are over 10 metres high. The trunks of all the trees are about 30cm (i.e a foot) from the stone wall and level of my neighbour's garden is about a metre higher than mine. Because the trees are so close to the stone wall it has started to crack and bulge. I have spoken to my neighbour about this but he is not interested in tackling the problem and has just sold his house. How should I tackle this problem when a new owner moves in?

Our Response:
It might be worth getting a surveyor to look at the wall - they should be able to tell you whether further damage is likely to occur and to what extent. You can then inform your neighbour (the tree owner). If damage then occurs to your wall, your neighbour can be held liable as they were aware of the dangers posed by their tree. Ifthe neighbour sells the property and new neighbours move in be sure to give them the report too in case the seller did not pass on the information during the sales process.
ProblemNeighbours - 12-Oct-16 @ 1:57 PM
My neighbour has several trees which have died.The dead branches, still partially attached,(20-30 foot in length) are now over-hanging into my garden.Who is responsible for the cost of removing the dead branches? Thanks for any advice.
Marie Marie - 11-Oct-16 @ 5:02 PM
There is a 27 metre long stone wall separating my house from my neighbour's.The wall is about 3 metres from my house.On my neighbour's side of the wall there are 8 mature lime trees and 1 beech, all of which are over 10 metres high.The trunks of all the trees are about 30cm (i.e a foot) from the stone wall and level of my neighbour's garden is about a metre higher than mine. Because the trees are so close to the stone wall it has started to crack and bulge.I have spoken to my neighbour about this but he is not interested in tackling the problem and has just sold his house.How should I tackle this problem when a new owner moves in?
Ruaraidh - 11-Oct-16 @ 3:14 PM
We have just bought our council house. When we have come to look at the deeds and the land belonging tonus, it has become apparent that the row of conifers they planted 20 odd years ago have been planted in land that we now own.They only cut their side up to the point of the boundary line, however I get the feeling that when we put a fence up then they will put a battle because of the said conifers and their right to them. Currently we are looking over a metre of our garden to them. I would love nothing more than to hack them down and believe me that day is coming. Are we entitled to just chop them down as they are on my land. Any help greatly appreciated.
Pulling my Proverbia - 9-Oct-16 @ 7:12 PM
Hi we have a dispute on with a neighbour The reason being.They have 24 by 12 foot leylandi backing on to our average size back garden.. the previous neighbour allowed us to keep them to this height..the new neighbour said last year we could keep them trim to this height and this year after us trimming them she's saying she doesn't want them cut and wants them to grow another 3ft making them 15foot High, she is also sending us a solicitor letter
Bluey - 9-Oct-16 @ 7:05 PM
Norm - Your Question:
Our neighbour has a tall x-mas tree in the front garden which is only 1 meter from the front wall of our house. She also has two tall sycamore trees in the rear garden some 5 and 10 meters from our rear wall. Our structural engineer who inspected our property was concerned about those trees. Do I have any legal right to force the neighbour to cut the trees?

Our Response:
Not really. If your structural engineer has genuine reason to think the trees are an imminent danger, then you should inform the tree owners. The neighbour will be liable for any damage caused by the trees if they were aware of the dangers and didn't take any action. Regarding the tree in the front - is it just one tree? If there is more than one evergreen tree, the high hedges legislation might be worth looking at.
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Oct-16 @ 11:43 AM
Our neighbour has a tall x-mas tree in the front garden which is only 1 meter from the front wall of our house. She also has two tall sycamore trees in the rear garden some 5 and 10 meters from our rear wall. Our structural engineer who inspected our property was concerned about those trees. Do I have any legal right to force the neighbour to cut the trees?
Norm - 3-Oct-16 @ 10:03 PM
Hi, My neighbor wants to cut down most of the trees between our properties so he can install a fence.We love the trees. What does the law say please?
Paul - 27-Sep-16 @ 2:46 PM
Diggerlady - Your Question:
The garden which backs on to mine has two HUGE BIRCH trees at the end. Every year my house and garden is swamped with millions of seeds.the whole house is full of them. I THE garden is covered on every surface , I cannot put washing on the line as it gets covered in them, I hoover them up off the floor windowsills, my bed the bathroom and they are back 1/2 hour later.the breeze only has to be light and any open window allows them in. They get walked in from outside and for three months every year they make my life a misery. Then the leaves drop off and guess where they all land ? Then we get windy weather in the winter and my garden is full of twigs and branches which seem to snap off easily. I'm at my wits end as the owner doesn't care and loves the trees. But then the prevailing wind is towards my house and hers is relatively seed, leaf and twig free. Is there anything I can do to force her to take action ?

Our Response:
You can of course, cut back any growth on your side of the boundary although in view of the size of the trees, this might not achieve the desired result. Really there's not a great deal you can do about this unfortunately as the tree is almost certainly not an "actionable nuisance" so you cannot really try and claim for damages through the courts.
ProblemNeighbours - 26-Sep-16 @ 2:49 PM
The garden which backs on to mine has two HUGE BIRCH trees at the end. Every year my house and garden is swamped with millions of seeds...the whole house is full of them. I THE garden is covered on every surface , I cannot put washing on the line as it gets covered in them, I hoover them up off the floor windowsills, my bed the bathroom and they are back 1/2 hour later...the breeze only has to be light and any open window allows them in. They get walked in from outside and for three months every year they make my life a misery. Then the leaves drop off and guess where they all land ? Then we get windy weather in the winter and my garden is full of twigs and branches which seem to snap offeasily. I'm at my wits end as the owner doesn't care and loves the trees. But then the prevailing wind is towards my house and hers is relatively seed, leaf and twig free. Is there anything I can do to force her to take action ?
Diggerlady - 25-Sep-16 @ 10:15 AM
Em - Your Question:
Hello. Our neighbour has a tree whose roots must have spread to under our decking area at the bottom of our garden as we have saplings growing up through the decking! Is this something we can ask the neighbours to help with in terms of removing the roots/repairing the damage to decking? Thank you for any advice you can give!

Our Response:
No not really. You can remove any roots that encroach on to your side of the boundary though.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Sep-16 @ 11:59 AM
Hello. Our neighbour has a tree whose roots must have spread to under our decking area at the bottom of our garden as we have saplings growing up through the decking! Is this something we can ask the neighbours to help with in terms of removing the roots/repairing the damage to decking? Thank you for any advice you can give!
Em - 11-Sep-16 @ 3:03 PM
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