Loathe thy neighbour’s tree?
Trees are important in every landscape – big or small, urban or rural, cottage or contemporary. Trees bring colour and interest to a garden; they provide shade and attract wildlife. But because trees live a lifetime or more, if they are not pruned and maintained they can cause a nuisance, whether it is overhanging branches, blocking light or risking damage to a property.
What happens if the tree that is causing an issue doesn’t belong to you?
When you can prune trees
A tree will always belong to the owner of the land where the tree was originally planted. Furthermore, if the tree bears fruit or flowers, it is an offence under the Theft Act 1968 to take them without permission of the owner, even if they overhang your land. If your neighbour has not requested their return, then it is down to you to dispose of them. You cannot throw the branches into your neighbour’s garden as this can be considered fly tipping.
If the tree is situated on local authority owned land, then you must contact the relevant council department to request they arrange to have it pruned.
You can trim branches or roots that cross into your property from a neighbour’s property or a public road however you can only trim up to your boundary. If you trim beyond your property boundary then your neighbour could take you to court for damaging their property.
If the property borders a road
If the tree on the property is causing an obstruction in the road, then highway authorities can request for them to be cut back. If refused, highway authorities can go into your property without permission to do the work themselves however they will likely charge for this.
What if the tree is dangerous?
If you believe the tree to be a threat to people or your property (it overhangs a shed or greenhouse, for example, or is rotting and in danger of harming someone) then talk to your neighbour.
If there is a disagreement about the tree’s condition, contact your local councils Environmental Health department.
Who is liable for pruning costs?
If it is a large and/or potentially dangerous task which may require a tree surgeon, it is best to talk about the possibility of sharing the costs.
Whilst the tree might belong to your neighbour, your neighbour is not liable for pruning costs that may affect your boundary.
Can I make a formal complaint about overgrown trees?
The short of it is, yes. However there is a very specific process that needs to be followed if you wish to make a complaint to your local council.
The first step, and you will need evidence of this, is to attempt to settle the issue informally. Talk with your neighbour or write a letter clearly outlining the issue. If other neighbours are affected by the same problem, get them to write a letter as well.
If you have followed this process and are unable to resolve the matter, then you can submit a request to your local council provided the tree fits within one of these three categories:
- There are two or more mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs
- The trees or shrubs are over two metres in height
- The trees are affecting your enjoyment of your home or garden because they are too tall
It may be necessary to pay a fee to the council to consider your complaint. The documents you need and further information on the complaints process can be found on the government website.
The importance of using a professional tree surgeon
If there are branches overhanging your property and you are planning on pruning them, it is a good idea to consult with a professional and qualified tree surgeon.
Naturally Trees are fully certified in the practice of arboriculture; we understand the law and have more than 18 years’ experience in tree surgery and consultancy services. Furthermore, Naturally Trees is covered by £5 million public liability insurance, and all staff has minimum NPTC (National Proficiency Training Council) qualifications as standard.
If you would like advice and help, talk with the experts at Naturally Trees.
Get in touch for an obligation free quote by phoning 07555 224 201 or 01488 50 50 58 or email us at email@example.com
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