Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I ask if you have notified the neighbour of your concerns to date please?
Yes, we have........ she says she is getting the son of the neighbour to do the job for her, he has a gardening business but she is unwilling to say whether he is doing it as a favour or as paid work. We have told her we have concerns about the tree being made unstable or dangerous and she has said she will inform the man doing the work about our concerns and if he thinks it's necessary will come and speak to us. She just keeps saying things like "so I have your permission"? and my husband has said no, not until I have spoken to the person involved and am convinced it is going to be done responsibly and safely
The position in law is that your neighbour is entitled to lop back any branches that overhang or any roots which grow under her land providing in both cases she returns or offers to return the material. However if she cuts roots back to the trunk or in such a way that makes the tree unstable then she will be liable to you for any damage caused to the tree or your property if the tree subsequently falls or dies as a result of the work.
Accordingly you may consider writing to her by email or letter (keeping a copy) advising her that you consider that her chopping back the roots to the trunk or near the trunk may damage the tree and or make it unstable and that you reserve your rights to make a claim against her if the tree suffers any damage or your property suffers any damage as a result.
You can go on to say that you put her on notice that you reserve your position entirely and consider that her proposed actions will result in damage to the tree and /or instability and request that she does not carry out the work.
Thanks a lot, I would rather the tree not be made unsafe to be honest. I'm happy for her to cut the roots as long as the tree is left it a safe and stable condition. It is a substansial tree about 20ft high, approx 6 metres from the house and unless we were very unfortunate it wouldn't hit the house just sheds and decking areas......my fear is that a person would be hurt by it falling. If it was left in a dangerous condition by the work done, would I be able to claim against her for the cost of making it safe, which I would suspect be bringing it down?
You could ask that the work is carried out by a qualified tree surgeon potentially in addition to your above comments.
If she goes ahead and the tree is subsequetly become unstable or causes damage to property or person there is the basis of making a claim against her for such damage. This could include costs of making the tree safe and damage to the tree itself as your property.
Is there anything else I can help you with?
No that's lovely thanks Joshua. I work as a health and safety officer and I had a feeling that would be the case, but trees aren't my field and it's good to have it confirmed by a knowledgeable person. At least we now know how to move forward and can at least make sure she has a job done properely rather than by the son of a neighbour who does a bit of gardening. My main concern is that no one gets hurt, on her side of the fence as well as our own
A pleasure. The key thing to consider at this stage is to put your concerns in writing and put her on notice as above so she cannot claim she did not realise the work could be dangerous.
If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do no hesitate to let me know.
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