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LondonlawyerJ
LondonlawyerJ, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 803
Experience:  Experienced solicitor
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Hi there my question is concerning a tree in my back garden.

Customer Question

Hi there
my question is concerning a tree in my back garden. My back garden runs parallel with an access walk way for neighbours and anyone to access the garage area (this is not the sole access there is another access point). My back garden is fenced with a gate to the access walkway.
The other side of the walkway is the side of the house of the property which runs parralle so in effect the side of his house wall forms a "boundary", plus he has hedges which divide the walkway from his front garden, and a fence which divides his back garden from the walkway.
I have my silver birch tree trimmed twice a year, it is elevated towards my house so slightly heavy on my side.
Last year my neighbour hacked off every single branch which over hang my back garden garden fence and over the walkway. Please note the branches would never be low to touch peoples heads. At most they would over hang a foot and from 7 foot and above (my tree is about 22 foot in height).
my neighbour used a hedge trimmer to hack the whole side of my tree that is the branches from top to bottom. this has made my tree very lop sided. my tree surgeon said the cutting has been severe and it will take a couple of years to recover on that side.
i did tackle my neighbour and asked why he did this as he compromised my back garden security and privacy. his response was "when it rains and he is walking undermeath his hair gets wet".
I'm more concerned about the damage he has done to my tree. he does not ask my permission or leave the cut foilage for me to dispose of.
he insists that walkway access is on his deeds as "his responsbility for maintenance".
where do i stand?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 3 years ago.

LondonlawyerJ :

Hello I am a solicitor with over 15 years experience. I will try to help you with this.

LondonlawyerJ :

The general legal position here is that he is entitled to chop off branches and foliage that overhang his property but as you are aware he is supposed to offer the resultant cut offs to you. It seems that he has cut branches which overhang a footpath which is not on his property. Is this correct? Could you also tell me what you are hoping to be able to do about his actions (eg do you want compensation, do you just want to know what the law is etc?).

JACUSTOMER-4nbh51m0- :

Hello thank you ...

JACUSTOMER-4nbh51m0- :

well, to try and clarify, the walkway is on his deeds as his responsibility to maintain, that's as much as i know. it is a public access pathway.

JACUSTOMER-4nbh51m0- :

He has cut branches well into my side by many inches, hence making the tree very "one sided".

JACUSTOMER-4nbh51m0- :

my tree surgeon said he has cut badly and damaged growth on that side, so really i want to know if he cutting the branches legally, is he entitled to do this without my permission? i just want to warn him that in future I will want him to inform me when he proposed to do this again so i can be in attendance to ensure he does not go overboard and uses the right tools and cuts empathetically so my tree is not damaged

JACUSTOMER-4nbh51m0- :

so really it is more a question regarding the law, where i stand, and where he stands? and would you recommend a letter from me to him informing him i have taken legal advice

JACUSTOMER-4nbh51m0- :

there was also another time when i creosoted my rear fence on the outerface of my back garden and he knocked on my door and said his partner got creosote on her jacket and they were going to sue me ... this is the time of mentality I am dealing with here

LondonlawyerJ :

The positions is that he can only legally chop branches etc without your permission to the extent that they overhang his property. If the branches overhang the path and this does not belong to him then he has no right to chop them off. I note he says that he has responsibility for the path but this would only make it acceptable if the tree was interfering in a significant way with the use of the path. If he has cut away bits of tree overhanging your property he had absolutely no right to do this. He seems therefore to be in the wrong legally. Assuming you do not want to report him to the police for criminal damage there is probably not a lot that you can do. Any compensation would be minimal and the costs of trying to obtain an order preventing him from harming the tree further would be prohibitive. If the tree is subject to a tree preservation order or you are in a conservation area (which might well mean the tree is protected) then you might be able to get the local authority involved.

LondonlawyerJ :

It may be that the best thing is to let him know that you have researched the law (this is not advice on this site) and what he has done is legally wrong but that you want to work with him as a good neighbour and that if he has any issues with the tree he should let you know and you will try and work something out together that ensures the long term health of your tree and takes account of any reasonable concerns he has. I kow that with his mentality this may not be very effective but it is probably all you have.

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