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My Rights Regarding my Neighbour's Trees?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 23 Jun 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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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
Hi We have recently had a large conifer removed from the top of our drive.We did this because of issues regarding the light being blocked from the garden - but had never previously been approached by the neighbour about any problems.There was no preservation order.. We consulted our neighbour who was pleased that we do the job.However,the trees surgeons damaged his drive and he is now wanting to sue us for the damage. The tree surgeons are insured. He is also now claiming tree root damage which was never previously mentioned in the 30 years we have been here.We live in a beautiful tree lined avenue and tree roots are an unavoidable hazard.The tree surgeon has offered to repair the drive and sort out any tree roots - but he has refused this and says he is taking it further.Help! Maggie
Maggie - 4-Apr-18 @ 11:27 AM
Our neighbours tree has encroached in to our garden, knocking down our fence (which we have replaced) and also damaged a shed and the ground on which it stood is now un-usable. Once the neighbour realised the amount of damage being caused they claimed the tree belonged to us and that the fence had actually been placed in the wrong position, despite the original chicken wire fence that divided the gardens from when the house was built in the 60's being embedded into the bark on our side of the tree (where the tree had forced it's way through the fence) and the tree was clearly in their garden when we purchased the house over 10 years ago. Our neighbours have caused us years of harassment as a result, which I won't go in to, but is very shocking what they have resorted, they are very nasty people. We, as last resort, put in a claim through out home insurance, who accepted the tree obviously wasn't ours but said we had to prove that the damage was caused by the tree and its roots (even though you can see them pushing the concrete up) and that it would continue to do so. We had a professional report produced, at a cost of over £500, (we also had to pay £250 to the legal firm to instigate the claim) which went far beyond what our insurers requested, stating that the tree obviously grew from our neighbours property and that the tree has a serious weakness meaning that a major branch will fail at some point. Despite all of this the insurers solicitors still keep claiming that we have insufficient evidence, which is a back-track from when they advised us to get the report done. We feel that as a home insurance claim they have no real desire to help us. A large part of our garden is unusable, our new fence is continuing to be damaged, we have young children that we are now concerned about playing near a tree that has been shown to be dangerous. Surely we have some rights to gain the use of our garden back when the tree is nothing to do with us? The neighbour in question has now put their house up for sale (which is great news), however they seem to think they can just walk away from any of their responsibility, whilst costing us thousands to pursue and repair any damage. All the insurers solicitors advise on that matter is 'take it up with whoever purchases the property', meaning we run the risk of falling out with new neighbours if we want this resolved. Any advise would be gratefully received, especially are we be taking for a ride by our insurers legal firm? Thank you in advance.
club_guru - 13-Mar-18 @ 6:59 PM
Hi, My neighbour has a twisted willow tree knocking my fence and post line over. I have asked her on 3 occasions to remove her tree because it is leaning into my garden by 2 feet. I cannot erect a new fence because of her tree encrothcing into my garden. She has said I should put a new fence either side of her tree, because she is not cutting it down. Any helpful advice?
Ray - 3-Feb-18 @ 3:52 PM
Scoobydoo!- Your Question:
We do t get on with our neighbours and our garden boarders are lined with their trees and bamboo. I know I can cut back the bit that comes over - unfortunately quite a bit at present but can I pay (with no intention of fussing them to cover cost etc) someone to trim them back to the boarder?

Our Response:
Yes as long as you/they don't cut back anything that's not on your side of the boundary.
ProblemNeighbours - 30-Jan-18 @ 10:40 AM
We do t get on with our neighbours and our garden boarders are lined with their trees and bamboo. I know I can cut back the bit that comes over - unfortunately quite a bit at present but can I pay (with no intention of fussing them to cover cost etc) someone to trim them back to the boarder?
Scoobydoo! - 27-Jan-18 @ 11:37 PM
Happyman - Your Question:
My mother in laws neighbours have large trees the whole way down the property line, the small roots are invading the sewer pipes causing them to block on a regular basis, and the cones from said trees fall down on to her greenhouse and smash the glass, she is 90 and at her wits end. The neighbor just tells her to shut up if she tries to talk to them, any advice on either roots or damages done cheers.

Our Response:
She can get someone to trim back any roots that are on her side of the property but if there is actual damage she may be able to claim from the tree owners. The place to start is via her home insurer.
ProblemNeighbours - 16-Jan-18 @ 1:55 PM
My neighbour has only just put back up his fence and in order to ensure his fence doesn't blow over in the wind (which it did 5 years ago) he has tied it to one of my trees and the other one he has nailed a piece if wood into it. I have told him to put his fence up properly but to no avail. Have I any rights to cut the rope from one tree and pull out the piece of wood from the other?
Unhappy - 15-Jan-18 @ 11:43 PM
My mother in laws neighbours have large trees the whole way down the property line, the small roots are invading the sewer pipes causing them to block on a regular basis, and the cones from said trees fall down on to her greenhouse and smash the glass, she is 90 and at her wits end. The neighbor just tells her to shut up if she tries to talk to them, any advice on either roots or damages done cheers.
Happyman - 13-Jan-18 @ 3:12 PM
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
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