A next door neighbour's trees can add to your outlook, but where do you stand legally if they begin to encroach on your property? Read on to find out more.
The tree keeper and their responsibilities
The 'tree keeper' is the registered owner of the property on which the trees are sited. They are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the trees that overhang their neighbour's land.
Your property is deemed to be affected by your neighbour's trees if:
- branches overhang your land
- the tree could cause injury to people or damage to property on your land
- the tree could interfere with your use and enjoyment of your land
What constitutes interference with your enjoyment?
Your neighbour's trees are deemed to be causing interference with your enjoyment of your land if they:
- cause problems with satellite or TV reception
- disrupt the function of solar panels
- continually shed leaves on your garden
- cause excessive shading of your roof or your windows
- block a view that was visible when you originally bought the land
What can you do?
In the case of overhanging branches, the best thing to do is to try to agree on a suitable course of action with your neighbour. Before you can physically take action to remove the offending branches, you must check with your local council to make sure that the tree is not 'protected'. You may then legally ask a tree services company to prune and remove them or do the job yourself. You can then either dispose of the debris yourself or give it back to your neighbour so that they can get rid of it.
If no agreement can be reached, you can ask your solicitor to serve your neighbour a notice for removal of overhanging branches. The notice should state when you want the branches to be removed, giving at least a month's notice. Your neighbour should provide you with written notice of when the work will be carried out, especially if someone is going to need to enter your property in order to do so.
In most cases, neighbours can agree between themselves to employ a tree services firm to carry out routine pruning and management of overhanging trees without seeking legal recourse. In the case of a dispute, refer to the government guidelines as to how to proceed, or have a chat with a specialist in property law for more advice.