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Overhanging Trees: Who’s Responsible?

June 26, 2019

For many years, homeowners have used trees to create gardens abundant in style. While looking great, large trees can also lead to disputes, especially if they overhang across a boundary. In this article, we aim to provide readers with an understanding of UK law relating to trees.

Who owns a tree growing on a boundary?

The location of its base defines a tree’s ownership. Therefore, if a base sits directly on the boundary line between two properties then it’s mutually owned by both homes. In this situation, any action on the tree must be jointly agreed on by both parties. If a homeowner were to fell a shared tree without permission, it would be considered an act of trespassing.

Is it ok to cut off overhanging branches?

The practice of cutting overhanging branches is defined as ‘abating a nuisance’. As a result, it’s not necessary to receive permission before cutting them from your garden. However, some overhanging branches can only be removed from the other side of the fence. In this circumstance, you will need to get permission from next door. Regardless if you need permission or not, it’s often best to have a conversation with your neighbour about the removal of overhanging branches to maintain positive relationships.

What happens if I damage my neighbour’s tree?

Branch removal is a significant undertaking and can cause severe damage if not completed correctly. It’s essential to choose a competent tree surgeon to complete the task. If you’re working on a neighbour’s tree and accidentally cause damage, then you’ll likely you’ll be legally responsible. To protect yourself, ensure you choose a trusted tradesperson who is willing to take on the liability for the work before beginning.

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What happens if a neighbour’s tree blocks light to my garden?

If a property has received daylight for the last 20 years, then under the ‘Rights of Light Act’ of 1959 it has a legal entitlement to continue receiving that light. Therefore, if your neighbour chooses to plant a large tree that blocks daylight from entering your property you have a right to appeal the decision.

What happens if my home borders a road?

If your property backs onto a road and has a problem with overhanging trees, it’s possible the Highways Agency might ask you to remove them. This will only be necessary if the trees are blocking the road or causing obstruction. Homeowners can refuse this, but the authorities are within their power to remove the trees without consent. What’s more, if you do refuse and authorities are forced to do the removal themselves, they might charge for the service.

What if my fence is damaged by my neighbour’s hedge?

Your neighbour is responsible for the proper maintenance of hedges and trees on their side of the fence. Therefore, if your property is damaged by one of their overgrowing trees or hedges, it’s on them to fix it.

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