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Your Rights on Trees & Overhanging Branches

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 6 May 2024 | comments*Discuss
Rights On Trees Rights On Overhanging

Trees can add a great deal of splendour to a garden. They could be fruit bearing trees, a place in which to retreat to the shade and they can also add a great deal of colour to a garden. However, they can also cause a nuisance to a next door neighbour when they start encroaching onto your side of the fence, with problems ranging from attracting unwanted insects like bees and wasps, blocking out your light and shedding their leaves all over your garden. Therefore, it’s important to know what your rights are and what you can and cannot do.

Establishing Ownership of Trees

The tree belongs to the person upon whose land it has originally grown. Even if its branches or, worse still, its roots have begun to grow over or into a neighbour’s territory, it belongs to the landowner where the tree was originally planted. Even if the tree bears fruit or flowers on branches which overhang into your land, it’s an offence under the Theft Act 1968 to keep them or to take cuttings of flowers, for example.

Obviously, many neighbours will not tend to worry about that too much but should a neighbour, for example, see you collecting apples from their tree even though the branches have grown onto your side, they are legally entitled to ask you to return them.

Overhanging Branches

If the branches of a neighbour’s tree start to grow over to your side, you can cut them back to the boundary point between you and your neighbour’s property, as long as the tree is not under a tree preservation order. If it is, you’ll need to seek further clarification. However, the branches and any fruit on them which you may have cut down on your side still belong to the tree owner so they can ask you to return them.

It's a bit of an anomaly really, as while you are obliged to offer the branches back, if any leaves from your neighbour’s tree fall into your garden in autumn, you have no right to ask them to come around and sweep them up.

On the other hand, should the trees be causing SIGNIFICANT damage to your gutters (not just blocking them) you can ask your neighbour to pay to have them cleared or to pay for the cost of any damage they might have caused. If they refuse to do so, you can legally sue them and force them into paying. If you lop off any branches on your neighbour’s (the tree owner) side of the fence, you are not entitled to Gain Access To Their Property to cut off some more. This is trespassing and you could be prosecuted.

Tree Roots

You are entitled to dig up and remove any roots that have encroached upon your land. Roots can cause a lot of problems and if they’re deep and/or causing subsidence or any other form of damage to your side of the property, you might need to get a tree surgeon or some other kind of structural engineer to deal with the problem.

It’s always better to discuss this with your neighbour first but if an expert does have to be called in, it’s the tree owner’s responsibility to foot the bill. They can then choose to pay up front or by claiming it against their own home insurance policy.

Take Action

You may also be interested in our neighbour's trees action guide - written by a barrister

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My neighbours tree is overhanging into my garden and i want to hire someone to sort it as it's causing my smaller tree to become deformed through lack of light.Do my neighbours have to pay the tree surgeon as it's their tree
Cleo - 6-May-24 @ 12:46 PM
We have ivy/tree branches growing over out back fence. But there is only the street behind us and no neighbour who is responsible for it. Who would be liable to cut this back?
Mel - 23-Mar-24 @ 12:16 PM
My neighbours tree is blocking my tv signals, who should I contact?
Signal - 23-Mar-24 @ 10:14 AM
Just want to understand that so many people have complaints on damage to property by neighbours trees but the law is insignificant for the majority and all for the tree owner. I love trees, nature, greenery but when trees become dangerous because they are neglected and overgrown and too established, the tree owner wins! But that’s ok I’ll fork out £2000+ for problems … it goes on and on. Law needs to change !
Myfan - 17-Jan-24 @ 4:35 PM
We live in a conservation area. The neighbours Yew tree is right next to our boundary and hangs over our drive and to within 2 foot of our property. We can not park our cars beneath due to all the birds muck and moss that has completely overtaken. We have had to pay for damage to removed from the garage walls. One car is in garage and other two at the furthest point of the drive which is a nuisance and they still are covered with muck. This blocks are entrance into our home and we end up walking through bird ------ !! The tree surgeon applied to the council last year for permissionbut was declined as would not cut one side only out side. The neighbour is unreasonable and aggressive and would never pay. He has cut it himself previously without permissions. It also takes all the light from the kitchen and side of house.We don't feel in control of our own property and the drive needs re tarmacking which is not feasible in the current situation. Please advice.
coops - 29-Dec-23 @ 4:42 PM
I am a home owner ,the neighbours at the back of me who are renters have cut my tree down to fence height and threw it in my garden without my permission, I now have a gap which makes me overlooked and have no privacy , what can I do about it ?
Cookie - 10-Dec-23 @ 11:24 AM
My neighbour’s tree at no 141 Glenwood Avenue has become very large and some long branches are now halfway across my garden. I understand that i can cut these branches as long as i don’t go beyond the fence boundary. However, i worry that the tree is too big now for the safety of our houses, especially the foundations. It certainly blocks light significantly in spring and summer. The tree is on their fence boundary with a small alley that runs behind the gardens here. Would the council itself have any responsibility for maintenance? When I asked they said this was a civil matter. The house is rented out to tenants. When i asked about the tree recently they said the landlord had looked at tree maintenance & found it too expensive. So there were no plans to cut or prune. I had been reluctant to ask, as a few years ago i had to ask them to remove another tree which was in the corner of their garden by my fence. It had grown so much my fence was badly damaged. At that point we came to an arrangement that if they removed the tree i would pay for my new fencing.I had hoped they would eventually take action with this larger tree, so far nothing has been done. I am not sure it would be safe to leave this issue for much longer.
Marykaty - 6-Dec-23 @ 8:17 PM
I am the new owner of a garden with trees that overhang the boundary of my property, into another garden.It does not look like the previous neighbour in either property has managed these trees and they encroach significantly on to next doors property, although the sides facing in to our garden have been neatly trimmed and topped. Looking forward, I am more than happy for either the property owner to cut these back to our boundary (and dispose of the vegetation or give to us as they wish) or ask us to undertake the maintenance work (where we would ask for access and cut away all overhang and remove the debris, without paying a third party to do it). My questions is, if they do not speak to us about it first and subsequently they choose to employ a professional to undertake the work, can they after the fact request us to pay for the work undertaken?
Jemz - 11-Oct-23 @ 12:52 PM
I had a neighbour come and complain that leaves from a tree in our garden were being blown into her garden and blocking her drains. This neighbour is a few doors down, so we do not share a direct boundary. Shewants the tree cut down, or to pay for unblocking her drains. We do not want to cut down the tree and there is no overhangingissue. Does she have any legal recourse?
Duncan - 28-Sep-23 @ 6:53 AM
We have a shed holding my husband’s tools, it’s old and needs renewing but my husband has had 2 strokes (1 last year and 2nd 3 weeks ago) and the shed isn’t important atm. Next door has had a truck of men round today to chop his tree down - a branch of the tree has fallen onto our shed - the side of the shed has been blown out and the windows broken, the men say “it was falling to bits anyway!” They’ve offered to replace the glass. Where do we stand? What do we do? My husband or myself are in no state to be dealing with this emotionally or physically; he’s not even allowed to drive yet after the stroke so can’t go to the tip, we have nowhere to safely store the tools apart from the kitchen possibly, on and under the table. He’s not well enough to physically do all this anyway!
GWB62 - 23-Sep-23 @ 12:39 PM
Taylor Wimpey planted silver birch trees right next to my property. There are 4 trees that overhang my back garden and this time of year they start to get ready for winter which means the little leaves fall, and there are thousands of them. They leaves are everywhere and this year we had a new patio laid in the back and they are covered. The back of the house is clogged with leaves, the guttering is full, the top of the conservatory is littered with them and they are even blowing to the front of the property and the cars are covered. We have approached Taylor Wimpey but not had any response and we are at our wits end with the mess. Every time we venture out we bring the mess into the house on our shoes, the small gold leaves are literally everywhere, what can we do
Vince - 22-Sep-23 @ 1:10 PM
The trees have grown particularly high and now overhang my fence.My home is privately owned. The house next door is rented and the access for her is behind my fence in and out of her garden.The fence boarding the access way has fallen down and not been repaired so the lady cannot get her wheelie bin through.The fence belongs to the neighbour at the back of my property.The trees have grown so very high and need cutting back as they hang over the public access way and over my fence.My garden is constantly full of leaves and bods from the trees.The trees are lovely they just need cutting back.
Cal - 19-Sep-23 @ 1:14 PM
Neighbours oak tree is 40ft high. It has a TPO on it. There are hundreds of the acorn kernels dropping into my garden causing blocked guttering, hitting my bungalow roof and conservatory roof. Cannot sit in the garden because of these dropping they are like stones hitting you. It's costing me alot of money to get the gutters and conservatory roof cleaned What can I do about this problem.
Barb - 10-Sep-23 @ 8:59 PM
My neighbour has several fir trees which overhang my 10 foot fence,he will cut his side but says it’s up to me to cut mine,is this true as the trees are in his garden and will eventually push over my fence if not cut?
Tomo - 10-Sep-23 @ 12:06 PM
Hi there, I really need some advice as my neighbours tree is on her side, but all coming on my side off my garden and all sheds on my garden where my fence is damaged and my tiles. I have asked her many times if she would cut the tree, but no. She had said to me I will do something just give be 1 year but still nothing. I am fed up off cleaning my garden all the time.My daughter can't play outside. Please help me, what can I do. She has said we can cut the tree but why should we cut the tree and pay to get the rubbish thrown out in the bin. Need advice plz.
Nav - 7-Sep-23 @ 2:12 PM
My neighbour owns v large trees which shed their leaves in autumn and throughout the year dead branches fall into my garden, on my roof breaking roof tiles and onto my drive where some have landed on my car. I have spoken to him and he says they are protected. I have asked for them to be at least cut back with no action so far (this was last September). My garden is a mess and my slabs are constantly needing cleaned due to the sap debris/moss amongst the rest. What should I do? And also..any ideas what I could do to my garden to make it low maintenance if this is what I have to live with? I have actually considered moving house it is that bad.
Maz - 2-Sep-23 @ 6:26 PM
We have a retaining wall at the end of our garden (Several meters) that is in our opinion being damaged by a long line of several sycamore trees, that have been coppiced and pollard over the years (Coppice and pollard before the neighbours moved in, and our neighbours have no understanding of what this means).We are not able to enjoy our garden for many reasons.Our house is set over four floors and the sycamore trees are higher than our home (including the height of the retaining wall) and they continue to grow.We are unable to reach many branches to try to cut overhanging branches, as there is no equipment to help us do so and if we were to ask for professionals to help, we are certain out neighbour would be complicated in this area and refuse to help in any way.Whenever we try to discuss the matter with our neighbours, they are very dismissive of us and always comment back saying that they will either “get back to us in due course” (& of course, never do), or they simply say, “we will not take any action, do not discuss this matter with us any further, as we are very upset with you continuing to bring this matter up with us”.We have offered to pay for cutting the trees, mediator services and several other options and all has been met with the two comments above.Our problems have been ongoing for over 15 years and the sycamore trees continue to grow and in our opinion they continue to damage the retaining wall and most certainly impact our enjoyment of our garden.We have had a bad experience with our local council in asking for advice (in summary – they state that they can not help and there is nothing they can do, even though the council website states otherwise?) Any advice would be gratefully received, or any recommendations on solicitors that have won cases in this area, we would be delighted to hear about.Thanks for reading.
HelloAll - 30-Aug-23 @ 10:45 PM
There are many wasps on the very tall trees in my neighbour, a golf court run by Council. Some trees have heavy honey dew on my garden. Wasps are now everywhere in my garden. It is believed that the wasp nest is on the tree as I could hear the sound. This neighbour is regarded as a public place by the Coucil so they won't treat the trees and wasps. The trees belong to the council. But the coucil didn't manage them well and lots of weeds and wasps disturbing me. The asked me to protect myself. What can I do?
Winch - 9-Aug-23 @ 10:46 PM
I have a neighbour that has decking up to his fence and he is head and shoulders above my property, I have grown shrubs to block him out. He must be a sad b*****d because he keeps cutting my shrubs so that he can look into my garden, They have made big holes and are cutting beyond their boundary. I understand that this is not allowed, I haven’t tackled him because he is a nasty man who only picks on women. Any suggestions
Annie - 26-Jul-23 @ 5:01 PM
The garden next door is a disgusting mess as it is never touched. The only thing they have had planted is a birch tree which is now higher than both our houses and has never. been pruned. What are my rights?
grieve - 25-Jul-23 @ 3:56 PM
The neighbour whose garden runs along side mine has not touched it in thirty years except to plant a birch tree which is now higher than both our houses. Their garden is a disgusting mess and the tree is hard up against our fence. What is the legal position as weed seeds from dandelions etc spread into our garden.
grieve - 25-Jul-23 @ 3:50 PM
Branches from neighbouring beech tree are scraping our roof. Who pays for their removal?
Pat - 25-Jul-23 @ 1:17 PM
I have a neighbour who keeps cutting my shrubs not from her end but leans over my yard to cut my end. She has destroyed some of my shrubs. How can I deal with this situation as feels she has a right to manage my garden in my own property?
Lox - 14-Jul-23 @ 6:10 AM
I and another neighbour live at the back of this neighbour who has conifers he never cut at the back we are between two path ways I am 70 year old I try and cut the branch's what comes over my side the path way belong to council I was thicking phoneing the council about the path way if they don't do anything me and the another neighbour Won't be able to use the Entry. Help
Glad - 11-Jul-23 @ 6:04 PM
My garden backs onto 2 other properties. One of the properties has a tree and the other property has cut the branches from this tree that were overhanging into their garden. My problem is they have dumped some of the branches they have cut over into my garden. Am I able to give these back to the neighbour who dumped them into my garden even though it is not their tree?
Zee - 3-Jul-23 @ 5:17 PM
My neighbour has cut my evergreen tree fully down whilst I was at work without my permission, the tree is on my side of the fence she didn't just cut the over hanging branches but has chopped the tree flat across the top and not it's just a 6 foot stub. Can I do anything g about this. She works for the city council so thinks she can do anything she likes and advice would be massively appreciated
Jay - 29-Jun-23 @ 10:55 PM
My neighbour cuts our over hanging branches off every year and throws them over our fence. Ignored it most times but this time she has been aggressive and thrown loads of it into our garden once again and told her daughter to quick take them down the back and throw them over.. I told her she should have asked us if she couldn’t dispose of them. But she has no manners and ignored me!!
Sunny - 27-Jun-23 @ 1:42 PM
I moved into my council house 1 year ago I have a very large back garden with allotments over my 6ft fence which is covered in ivy which is very overgrown and ruining my fence.Today I found out the council own these allotments.My 25 year old grandson contacted council via email he got a prompt reply then his details were passed on to someone else who has said he cuts the ivy twice a year(not this last year he hasnt) and that I should cut his ivy and take it to a recycling depot at the other side of edinburgh and also that he will not be maintaining his ivy at my side.I am a 70 year old female just out of hospital I don't drive and certainly can't afford to pay someone to cut and remove this person's ivy.If I could manage to get it cut can I throw what I cut over to his side of the fence.
Mitch - 27-Jun-23 @ 12:38 AM
The debris and seeds from my neighbour's big tree fell right onto my laundry. It is so much that it soiled the linens. I tried many days to talk to them to discuss asolution. They just hid and instead gave me the dog barks, weird sound, and disgusting laughs. What rights do I have?
Ann - 22-Jun-23 @ 2:36 PM
My neighbours large apple tree has high branches which overhang my garden reducing my light.I have spoken to him about this and he is agreeable to have these removed, but says that as they overhang my garden, it is my responsibility to pay for the work. As he is the owner of the tree I think the onus is on him to pay. Can you advise ??
Jinty - 22-Jun-23 @ 10:47 AM
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