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My Rights Regarding my Neighbour's Trees?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 3 Nov 2019 | 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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We have a mountain and ocean view covenant that was on title when we purchased our property. It was created when the land was subdivided to protect the view from the original house. The primary tree is an Arbutus, and protected locally. When subdivided a retaining wall was built, and itwas built on an angle two feet into our property in order to protect the roots of the Arbutus tree that was now going to be on the subdivided lot. Our neighbour has allowed us to trim the trees in their back yard for the last 10 years. They have this last year decided that this was no longer going to happen and refused our trim requests. Do we have any recourse legally to enforce the “View Covenant” that states we have the right to enter the neighbour’s lot in order trim any offending branches?
PONGO - 3-Nov-19 @ 10:19 PM
10-4-19 We live in Minnesota and have a problem with out neighbor who blindly let a black walnut (deposited by squirrel) take root in his yard, about 2 feet from our property line. This was 5 years ago and the damn thing has grown like a weed, not to mention it's a toxic tree (a toxin called lugone is in this tree, which generally kills all vegetation near it). Long story short, it's now about 40 ft. high with branches that we had to spend a lot of money to trim last year, as he would not do it. They encroached onto our yard horribly and continue to do so every year. We cannot continue to pay for his tree trimming but we see no end in sight. Furthermore, we are alarmed at the fast growth rate and roots, which contain the toxin, will begin to travel near our deck and foundation. We've tried talking to him and he gets very angry, even going so far as to blast and berate my husband for almost 20 minutes about the situation. This is the same guy who, when we put in a new wood fence surrounding our property, 2014, my husband noticed buck thorn growing on his property in the corner of ours. Buckthorn is strictly illegal in Minnesota and when seen, must be removed immediately. This guy once again, shouted at my husband for pulling it out as he tried to explain to the neighbor what this bush was. Neighbor is from Scotland and clearly doesn't have a clue about trees, gardens nor taking care of one's own property! We are disgusted and have spent our time and money with this guy. Any suggestions. Our main concern is the fast pace of which the Black Walnut Tree is growing and the encroachment to our property up the road. Just to let you know, Black Walnut Tree has killed all my prize hostas, snowball bush, which was over 25 yrs. old and other perennials due to the tree being too close to the property line and excreting the toxin, not only in the roots, but from the leaves also, most of which fall into our yard in the Fall. Help From Minnesota?
TERRY - 4-Oct-19 @ 10:38 PM
My neighbour planted a conifer years ago when they moved in right against my fence which separates mine and their property as it is a terraced house. The fence panels have been replaced 3 times due to wear n tear. However the tree now is well over 8 metres high over hanging the 6’ fence, the tree is that big n bushy it has forced the fence panel to warp and rot - it overhangs my shed roof which was built before the tree was planted-the roof of the shed is wet thro, I often sweep all the dead debris up and put it back over the fence after all it is their mess their tree their property. There is no reasoning with these people - they own their property as we do, who could I contact to come and look at this problem, as it also roughly 6’ away from my house would the roots be growing under my house to cause more problems.
Bletch - 2-Oct-19 @ 4:29 PM
I moved into a council property where there is a huge willow tree I've been here 8 years and the tree has grown so big it's not managblethe council have told me because I rent from them it's my resposability to look after this tree as I don't own the land how do i stand in removing this tree
Kazzy - 16-Sep-19 @ 9:26 AM
We have asked my neighbour to prune a tree which has been planted, adjacent to the fence next to my extension 200 mm, since we built our extension, first he put trellis on top of the two metre fence,now this tree bush is growing higher than the fence to a height of about four metres high and bangs in the wind on my extension. what can I do ?
Busher - 31-Aug-19 @ 6:05 PM
My neighbours 40 year old willow tree branch has fallen into my garden but is still attached to the trunk. As she like me is elderly I hesitate to speak to her about it but as this tree is so old and very tall I wonder how safe the other branches are. Are they about to fall too?
Ba - 1-Aug-19 @ 8:29 AM
My neighbours shrub is growing five feet into my garden along the fence.Is he liable to cut it down in my garden?If not can I cut down as much as I can and throw it into his garden.Your advice would be appreciated.
Fedup - 13-Jul-19 @ 7:09 PM
My neighbours TPO protected oak tree has damaged - via falling branches (VERY large branches!) my son's vehicle and my vehicle over the past 2 years, it has also previously caused road obstructions from fallen branches and 3 years ago branches fell and caused damage to power lines (hazardous as the lines were only 6ft from the ground due to branches laying on them!). My neighbour would probably be willing to get the Oak tree chopped down but the TPO and the council are more of an issue - they only agree to necessary lopping of branches! This tree will hurt somebody one day - however, it isn't deemed by the council as too diseased or hollow or rotten... therefore each year we wait for the inevitable damage and danger this tree poses with our hands tied! What can we do? Thank You
LJCW - 9-Jun-19 @ 10:18 AM
what is it with people wanting 100 foot trees iam fedup with my neighbours trees blocking all the sun light is there a law we can have them put down
nesto - 25-May-19 @ 3:35 PM
I own property beyond the main road to which i have ingress/egress access through my neighbors driveway. At the entrance to where our property begins we have a nice red wood fence/gate which we always keep open.On it we have our house number and also some fence planters with flowers. Our actual home is 1/4 mile away and not visible from the street. Our neighbor has purposely planted leyland cyprus trees directed in from of our fence entrance which once they grow to full height will completely block our fence. At their peak I do believe they will encroach the road but at this point they are only 1 foot tall.So it will be a few years before she successfully completely hides our entrance gate from the street view. I have asked her several times to discuss the purpose and told her of my concern.After her refusal to answer my calls I approached her when she was in her yard to discuss and she flat out told me she was trying to block the view to our property.She let me know she did not appreciate the traffic we brought through (due to renovations) and basically admitted she was doing it out of spite. What can I do?Are there variances for new tree planting of such huge size?She already put a house number sign at the corner/entrance to the shared access road.Itseems she does not want us to use the driveway and eager to confuse any guests trying to find our house.What a nasty neighbor! Wants privacy my arse!!! There is nothing down there for her to block from view but trees and mountains.
NA - 15-May-19 @ 2:06 AM
We have a very large sycamore tree in our garden with several large branches overhanging my neighbours gardens. There are also some large roots which are pushing up one of our neighbours garden path. Where do we stand legally? We have asked for some quotes from various tree surgeons about cutting the tree down but none of them are willing to dig up mu neighbours garden to deal with the roots. Some advice would be great. Thank you
suepet - 26-Apr-19 @ 9:59 AM
P.S. In addition to removing the fence they have also removed the path
Mr G - 19-Apr-19 @ 5:29 PM
My house is at the end of a drive, which according to the land registry I own, and to which my neighbours have shared access. These neighbours own the end terrace houses at the end of the drive. Their respective outside walls border my drive directly. One of the neighbours has planted three trees (buddleja) at the base of his outside wall. They are growing rapidly, and are encroaching on the drive, narrowing it significantly. The woody stem of one of these trees has scratched my car. I have asked my neighbour, courteously, on several occasions to trim these trees back, but he seems to have no intention of doing so. I intend to advise him that I will be cutting them back, and will offer him the cuttings. Am I within my rights to do this?
Jonny - 29-Mar-19 @ 2:22 PM
We have a huge conifer in neighbours garden but it's only a foot or two over the boundary. They refuse to deal with it and I know I can remove all overhanging branches. Problem is if I do this it would almost strip away to the trunk and I worry it would unbalance the tree. Not sure how to go about this.
Clunky - 10-Feb-19 @ 10:36 PM
Our across the street neighbor has a bank of old long-needled pine trees close to his property line.Last May15th, a tornado went through our neighborhood and at least 7 of his trees fell onto my front lawn which had been newly excavated and planted.we removed the trees. There are still 9 of these old (40 year plus) trees standing, half broken.Recently one very tall one came down luckily on his property.Last night we had an ice storm. Some of these trees are over 90 feet tall.They are obviously dying. We are worried that the next group of trees to fall will hit our house. What is the correct procedure to put this neighbor on notice to remove the trees or to be responsible for any damage to our home in the future.
Claudia Mitchell - 20-Jan-19 @ 9:12 PM
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
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
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
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