Trees and Common Law

Some Common Laws about trees:

Blocking light or space and overhanging branches

There is no absolute right to light or to a view, therefore you would normally need to negotiate with your neighbour about managing their trees. In extreme cases it is possible to apply to a magistrates court for an injunction to control or restrict the growth of trees however this requires specialist legal advice and only applies in limited circumstances – there is also no specific law on how tall trees are allowed to grow and cases for loss of light normally only apply to windows in buildings not gardens.

You have a general right to prune overhanging branches back to your property boundary, however the owner of the tree is not usually obliged to cut them back. They must not be cut beyond the boundary and you cannot remove the top of someone else’s trees without their consent. You must ensure the trees are not subject to a tree preservation order or in a conservation area otherwise you are commiting an offence. If in doubt ask your local council’s tree officer first. It is normal to offer the removed branches back to the owner as they are their property, unless you have mutually agreed beforehand to dispose of the arisings for them.

Falling leaves, fruit, flowers or debris

Although these can cause a lot of inconvenience particularly if over your drive for example, falling leaves and debris are not regarded as a ‘nuisance’ in the legal sense and a tree owner has no obligation to clear them. It is normally the responsibility of all landowners to undertake their own ‘property maintenance’ if for example, they need to clear paths or gutters.

High hedges and conifers (Cypress leylandii)

This relates to evergreen or semi evergreen hedges only, not ordinary deciduous trees. It is sometimes possible to apply for enforcement action from your local council to restrict the growth of a neighbour’s hedge if it exceeds a certain height in relation to its distance from a property. There are specific criteria for doing this and also a cost element. Your council’s planning enforcement section manage this function and can give further guidance.

Dangerous trees

Every tree owner has a general duty of care to ensure their trees do not pose an unacceptable risk to other people on or adjacent to their land – you will however only be liable for injury or damage caused by trees if you are found to be negligent in some way e.g. by not taking reasonable care to inspect them or undertake essential work such as removing deadwood that could easily be seen to be hazardous etc. This is an area where it is advisable to take the advice of a qualified tree surgeon.

Tree roots and damage to property

If a tree is found to be causing damage to a neighbouring property it is classed as a legal nuisance and the tree owner would normally be liable for the associated costs of any loss or damage. In the event of any form of damage it is advised that you notify your neighbour and also contact your property insurers for further advice.They can often investigate and deal with the issue on your behalf.

TV & Satellite reception

TV interference can be caused by trees however there is no legal right to TV reception. We recommend you consult a television engineer to assess your aerial and signal.

DISCLAIMER

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS IS INTENDED AS A USEFUL GUIDELINE. IF IN DOUBT PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL COUNCIL PLANNING DEPARTMENT. HAWKES TREE SERVICES LTD  WILL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ACTION RESULTING IN PROSECUTION

 

 

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