Trees and hedgerows are one of the most common causes of neighbour disputes. A tree that is one person's pride and joy can sometimes become a source of worry and frustration for others.
What laws affect trees?
Trees can be affected by a number of legislative frameworks, but the most common are as follows:
Statute Law - governed by Acts of Parliament such as the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which allows Local Planning Authorities to protect trees of important amenity value.
Common Law - where a tree is not located in a conservation area or subject to a TPO, common law rights apply in respect to overhanging branches.~
Occupiers Liability Acts 1957 & 1985 - these place a 'duty of care' on the occupier of the land to ensure that a tree does not cause a nuisance to neighbouring properties.
So...my neighbours tree overhangs my property, what can I do?
If the tree is not protected, you are entitled to prune back any overhanging branches to your vertical boundary as long as it will not kill or destabilize the tree and by law should offer to return the prunings to the tree owner.
The Council strongly advises you to contact or talk to the tree owner before pruning the tree, as they may wish to make alternative arrangements with you.
If a tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or is within a Conservation Area then you must apply to the Council for permission to prune the tree. You can apply online via the Planning Portal or download the forms and guidance notes from the Application Forms page of this website.
So...my neighbours tree is too high, what can I do?
If you own a fast growing hedge, it would be considered neighbourly to maintain it at a reasonable height so that it does not cause distress to occupiers of adjoining properties.
If you are concerned about the height of your neighbours hedge, you can speak to the Planning Enforcement team for further advice. If you believe that the hedge meets the requirements of a High Hedge under Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, please see the High Hedges section of this website.
Tree related subsidence/damage
If you suspect a tree or trees is causing structural damage or subsidence to your property, you should seek independent professional guidance from a structural engineer and/or a qualified tree specialist. You may also want to contact your insurance company. It is essential that a thorough investigation is carried out to establish the cause of the damage or subsidence before any application is made to remove any trees.