Can I cut a tree or branch that’s hanging over my property?
A hedge or tree can be a fantastic way to add character to your home. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly, trees and hedges can create privacy between your property and your neighbours’. But what do you do if there’s a tree or branch hanging over your property?
Depending on your situation, the answer to this question could be extremely easy or a bit more complicated. We’ve broken down the most common situations that you may face if there is a tree or branch overhanging your land.
Q: A tree or hedge on my property is overgrown. Am I allowed to trim it?
A: In most cases, the answer to this query is yes. The tree or hedge in question is on your land, and you have the right to trim or remove it. However, there are some restrictions. It is against the law to trim a hedge that may have birds nesting in it (it’s wise not to trim your hedges between March and September to make sure you don’t inadvertently break this rule). If you live in a protected conservation area, similar rules may apply, so it’s best to speak to your local authorities about this issue. In addition, some properties have specific rules about hedges or trees that are written in the deeds of the property. It’s worth it to have a look before you make any serious plans.
Q: My neighbour’s tree is hanging over my property. What are my rights?
A: A tree belongs to the person whose land it has grown on. All branches and roots that invade your property still belong to the owner of the tree, and the owner is legally entitled to all fruit and flowers grown on the tree (even if the branches have grown over your land). Should your neighbour’s tree overhang your property, you are legally allowed to trim the tree back to the boundary point between your properties if the tree is not protected by a tree preservation order. The branches you have trimmed (and any fruit and flowers that have come with them) legally belong to the owner of the tree. Most owners will not ask you for the tree trimmings, but it is their legal right to do so.
Q: My neighbour’s tree is causing significant damage to my gutters. What can I do?
If a tree is causing damage to your gutters (significant damage, not just blocking them), you can ask your neighbour to have the gutters cleared or to pay for the damage the tree has caused. Should your neighbour refuse to pay, you are within your rights to take legal action.
Q: My neighbour’s tree roots have caused damage to my property. Can I ask them to fix it?
A: You are completely within your rights to dig up any tree roots that have entered your property. Should an expert tree surgeon need to be consulted, it is your neighbour’s responsibility to pay for the problem to be fixed. As a gesture of goodwill, it is a good idea to discuss these issues with your neighbour before taking action.
Q: The tree is on the property line. Whose tree is it?
If you’re wondering who actually owns the tree in question, take a look at your property deed, which will show you the property line. It is highly unlikely that two people will own the same tree. Should a dispute arise, consult your local barrister.