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My Rights Regarding my Neighbour's Trees?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 28 Sep 2021 | comments*Discuss
Trees Tree Law Tree Preservation Orders


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)


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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Lindy - 30-Apr-20 @ 11:39 AM
Abbey, your neighbour is allowed to cut anything that overhangs the boundary, and they should then offer to return to you whatever they have cut off (you are not obliged to accept it). Obviously beyond that they should not be entering or damaging your property without permission.If that is the case I would be politely but firmly asking her to stop.Take photos.
Clive - 18-Mar-20 @ 4:19 PM
I have a tree in my back garden and the neighbour is leaning over cutting down rather large branches and throwing them back over to our garden is this allowed? There is quite a feud over it she is leaning over to cut them when nobody is around. I have two small children here and it's dangerous. Could you help please where do I stand we both own our own properties ahead havnt asked permission or anything she has just simply took it upon herself it doesn't affect any gutters or anything like that it's at the back of the garden APPROX15 foot away from the house. Thanks
Abbey - 16-Mar-20 @ 9:21 AM
I have two problems with two different neighbours; 1- One at the back of my house who has a set of tall fur trees with their trunks are with 3 inches from my fence. The roots of the trees have now lifting the fence up and pushing my fence away. I have asked them very politely to remove the trees and I offered them contribution towards removing the trees and plant new trees away from my fence. Apart from cutting the tip of the trees, they don't want to do anything about it.This has been going on for the past 30 years and I don't know what to do. 2- At the time of construction of the propertied in the 60th, the sewage manhole that belongs to my neighbour on the right side of my property has been located within my property. This has been causing some problems whenever there is a blockage. It either flowing over out into my garden or men have to come into my property to deal with it. Do I have the right to ask my neighbour to relocate the manhole to within the boundary of their property? Grateful if you could let me have your advice on the above two problems. Best regards Khatab
K - 20-Jan-20 @ 11:11 AM
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