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My Rights Regarding my Neighbour's Trees?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 20 Nov 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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none - Your Question:
My neighbor has an empty lot next to me with well over 100 pine trees. Every spring and fallthe eves of the roof have to be cleaned out which can cause damage to my roof. I cannotdo it as I used to. Actually I fell off the ladder several years ago and received a broken arm and set up staph infection at the hospital. Miserable time. I have asked the neighbor several times to cut some of them which would help because the big trees are close to property line.As the wind comes out of the southwest 90 percent of the time I get all the pine needles,which is just tremendous. Outside of asking again and again to cut them is there anything I can do?

Our Response:
It sounds as though you are not in the UK, so our laws may not be relevant where you are. Here, your neighbour is not responsible for any foliage or needle drop and the responsibility of cleaning out guttering etc, lies with the property owner. If there are several trees and they are evergreen, then the High Hedges legislation might help - our Guide here might help
ProblemNeighbours - 21-Nov-17 @ 11:41 AM
FSG - Your Question:
The back of my garage, which includes half of the window, sits inside my neighbours garden. They have put conifers on their side of the fence and by the garage which have grown to obstruct the window. I am having the garage converted and want yo be able to see out and open my window. Can I cut back the conifer where the window is sitting within their boundary?

Our Response:
You can only cut back branches that overhang your side of the boundary. You will need to discuss the extension with your neighbour to see if you can come some agreement about visibility.
ProblemNeighbours - 21-Nov-17 @ 10:35 AM
My neighbor has an empty lot next to me with well over 100 pine trees.Every spring and fall the eves of the roof have to be cleaned out which can cause damage to my roof.I cannot do it as I used to. Actually I fell off the ladder several years ago and received a broken arm and set up staph infection at the hospital. Miserable time. I have asked the neighbor several times to cut some of them which would help because the big trees are close to property line. As the wind comes out of the southwest 90 percent of the time I get all the pine needles, which is just tremendous. Outside of asking again and again to cut them is there anything I can do?
none - 20-Nov-17 @ 2:12 PM
The back of my garage, which includes half of the window, sits inside my neighbours garden. They have put conifers on their side of the fence and by the garage which have grown to obstruct the window. I am having the garage converted and want yo be able to see out and open my window. Can I cut back the conifer where the window is sitting within their boundary?
FSG - 20-Nov-17 @ 8:02 AM
We have recently brought a hour and two metres away from our boundary behind our garden, there are too huge tress, one is a poplar about 30 m high and one is a sycamore about 25m high, they seem to me to be far too high for the garden size our house is 20 m away from the trees. Do you have any advice on whether there is a legal height the trees can grow to, before they are classed as a risk. I have two small children and worry the could fall on them.
Jacko - 14-Oct-17 @ 6:46 PM
sammy - Your Question:
My neighbour has a Clematis plant growing on her side of the fence. This has now spread over to our side and has weaved its self in and out of the top of our trellis to the point it has damaged it beyond repair. (not sure who's responsibility the fence is but we replace the whole length of the gardens about 10 years ago) The plant now runs the whole length of the gardens. I would like to cut this off the fence our side but doing this would kill the branches her side. The whole fence needs replacing really as we have had to prop it up our side as the posts have now rotten completely through.Where do we stand regarding the cutting of the plant and replacing the now damaged fence please??

Our Response:
Talk to your neighbour. If you're replacing the fence anyway, perhaps you could cut around the plant in order to preserve it? In theory if the fence is yours, your neighbour should not be growing or attaching anything to it - and is in fact causing criminal damage by doing so.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Oct-17 @ 12:48 PM
My neighbour has a Clematis plant growing on her side of the fence. This has now spread over to our side and has weaved its self in and out of the top of our trellis to the point it has damaged it beyond repair. (not sure who's responsibility the fence is but we replace the whole length of the gardens about 10 years ago) The plant now runs the whole length of the gardens. I would like to cut this off the fence our side but doing this would kill the branches her side. The whole fence needs replacing really as we have had to prop it up our side as the posts have now rotten completely through. Where do we stand regarding the cutting of the plant and replacing the now damaged fence please??
sammy - 12-Oct-17 @ 2:40 PM
steve - Your Question:
My neighbour has planted a pear tree next to my house wall only 4 iches awayis this a problem

Our Response:
Talk to you neighbour, ask them whatheight and trunk width they expect the tree to grow to. If it's clear that tree could cause damage to your wall, they may be willing to move it.
ProblemNeighbours - 11-Oct-17 @ 10:31 AM
my neighbour has planted a pear tree next to my house wall only 4 iches away is this a problem
steve - 9-Oct-17 @ 6:03 PM
cas - Your Question:
A neighbours tree and a vast amount of bushes that are overgrown have collapsed and fallen into the path at the side of my house completely blocking access.They are saying it is not their fault as ivy from my garden has grown and caused it to fall!!Who is responsible?

Our Response:
We can't say who's responsible as we don't have enough information. In general a tree owner would be responsible if their tree fell onto a neighbouring property especially if they were aware of potential problems with the trees.
ProblemNeighbours - 7-Sep-17 @ 12:29 PM
A neighbours tree and a vast amount of bushes that are overgrown have collapsed and fallen into the path at the side of my house completely blocking access. They are saying it is not their fault as ivy from my garden has grown and caused it to fall!! Who is responsible?
cas - 5-Sep-17 @ 7:16 PM
Keepfitsandy- Your Question:
My daughters neighbours tree is so tall it cuts out all the natural light from her garded and her house. The neighbour wants her to contribute to a tree surgeon but as my daughter is a first time buyer it's not an option. If it's the neighbours tree surely they should pay? Also it drops cones and all sorts of pine needles on her decking which isn't usable now. Thanks

Our Response:
You daughter's neighbour is not obliged to to cut down the tree and is not responsible for dropped needles/cones (can your daughter not sweep them up?) If there is more than one "evergreen" tree, it will constitute a "hedge" and your daughter might be able to take action under high hedges legislation
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Aug-17 @ 12:08 PM
My daughters neighbours tree is so tall it cuts out all the natural light from her garded and her house. The neighbour wants her to contribute to a tree surgeon but as my daughter is a first time buyer it's not an option. If it's the neighbours tree surely they should pay? Also it drops cones and all sorts of pine needles on her decking which isn't usable now. Thanks
Keepfitsandy - 20-Aug-17 @ 1:07 PM
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
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