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James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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I want to cut down a tree in my neighbours garden which blocks

Customer Question

I want to cut down a tree in my neighbour's garden which blocks my light, sheds copious sticky buds and leaves over my conservatory roof and regularly leads to blocked gutters on my hard-to access roof. My neighbour's property consists of a house with a restaurant on the ground floor , a flat above and land at the back with the tree close to my bordering fence. In 2011 I was told that the property was managed by the estate managers , Wilmotts. Wilmotts told me that all dealings had to go through them and that not only did the owners approve of felling the tree they would also contribute £250 towards it. They supplied the address of the owner which was c/o Wilmotts and which my tree surgeon used in the necessary notification process. In October last year I received planning permission from Wandsworth Council to go ahead with felling the tree. I decided to do it in 2 stages as I had heard that there could be dangers of subsidence etc. to do it in one fell swoop. In November 2012 we reduced the tree by 50%. after having given notice to Willmotts of our intention to do so. On the understanding that the tree could be felled I went ahead with enlarging my conservatory.

I telephoned the owner of the restaurant last week, out of courtesy, to ask which dates would be convenient for him to complete the felling. He told me that he did not want the tree to be felled, that he hadn't been informed in advance of the pruning in November and that as he was the owner of a 20 year lease on the property it was his decision. I contacted Wilmotts who are now saying that it is up to him. (They have paid me the £250.) If we do not fell the tree I will have huge bills for blocked gutters every year (to get access to the roof we need scaffolding over the conservatory glass etc.)

Did Wilmotts give me the wrong name to seek permission ? Should it have been the freeholder or the owner of the 20 year lease for the restaurant ? When did he take out the 20 year lease ? Does it cover the back part or the garden ? The back parts of the 3 neighbouring gardens (Nos. 271-275) are subject to a lease owned by a man who has a workshop there and there is no gate between them and that of the restaurant (No. 277). The restaurant owner told me that his only contact with Wilmotts was to send them regular cheques . How can I find out all these things ? I have tried calling Wandsworth Council 3 times but it is automated and no one ever calls me back.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question here on Just answer. It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me if I need to ask for any further information from you in order for me to be able to advise you fully. My name is Law Denning and I am a practising solicitor. I have been an expert on this website in UK law since 2008. During that time, as you appreciate, I have answered thousands of questions from satisfied users on a variety of subjects.
Because we are all in practice with clients and court and other users, I might not always respond in minutes, particularly evenings and weekends. Please bear with me in that case. I will be online and off-line all day most weekdays and weekends.
Have you obtained the deeds to the land to ascertain who owns the land that the tree is on?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes. It is as Willmotts told me. A company called Ariel Limited , c/o Willmotts,. Ariel Limited is registered in the Isle of Man. Title no. SGL 507681. This is the owner my tree surgeon informed . The restaurant owner told me he had a 20 year lease .

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.
Assuming that Ariel own the freehold and Wilmots are the freeholders agent and the restaurant owner (who is someone else) has a lease than the restaurant owner is the one who must give consent. Wilmots are quite correct in that respect.
So, what can you do? This is a nuisance.
You can bring an action against the restaurant owner for letting the trees drop their stuff all over you and you can bring an action against the landlord for allowing the restaurant owner to let it happen.
Leaves in themselves are not nuisance and you would have to prove that the nuisance is over and above the ordinary and is caused by lack of maintenance.
It is not going to be a quick, risk-free or by any means certain claim against either the freeholder or the restauranteur. A solicitors letter threatening an application to court in common-law nuisance and an application for court costs, might focus both of their minds.
The freeholder is located in the Isle of Man and you would have to issue proceedings in the UK but serve them out of jurisdiction.
This is most certainly not a do it yourself job unless you have experience of litigating in common-law nuisance. Even if I had experience, based upon the fact you have given me, it is not litigation to be taken lightly.
The above of course presumes that the tree is in the area at least by the restaurant owner.
You can easily find out the extent of his lease by getting a copy of his deeds from the land registry which will cost 3 pounds for the title and 3 pounds for the plan.
You will need to get the freehold which should show Ariel as being the freeholder and the leasehold which should show the restaurant lease. The plan will show the extent of the lease.
The freehold title will refer to the lease and probably the lease title but have few other details. If the tree is not located in the restaurant lease plan area and it is not least to anyone else, and it comes down to Ariel.
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I’m off-line shortly until later but will pick this up then.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The freehold deeds have no mention of a lease. Can I find it any other way ?

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.
I am just away from my computer but will come back to you as soon as possible.

There is no need for you to reply.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The freehold is in fact for 2 properties together, nos. 275 and 277. The only lease mentioned is for a first floor flat in no. 275. - 125 years from 1987.


As the restaurant lease (277) is allegedly only for 20 years does it need to be there too ? Is there any other way to find it ?

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.
Only Land Reg. A lease over 7 yeras must be regd. I would tackle the restuarant guy with the deeds and ask him where his lease is. He will either have to come up with it or admit that he doesnt lease the tree land