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James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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On my instruction a neighbours tree was cut back. This 70ft

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On my instruction a neighbours tree was cut back. This 70ft conifer was overhanging my property to a great extent causing the guttering to block and separate in some places. The needles and seeds covered my property all year.
The neighbour is threatening to sue me under garden law. Since the tree's deposits damaged my property have I a case to countersue?
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Did you only cut what was overhanging?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The very thick branches needing to be removed had to be cut very low so some were just over the fence. Contractor went to get permission but unfortunately called at the next house. Believing that permission had been granted he completed the work. Some days later I was subjected to verbal abuse from the correct neighbour and a letter followed stating that I could/would be sued for criminal damage, trespass and theft. Having now looked at the law it seems that he would be within his rights, but would the fact that the guttering was blocked and damaged and my property covered by the constant dropping of needles and seeds from the tree be a case for counter-suing?

This is a very common question. A
person cannot make an adjoining property owner cut the trees per se but please
see my later comments about trespass and nuisance.

Consent is needed to trim
deciduous trees which are protected by a Tree Preservation Order and a licence
may be needed to fell trees which are not protected by a TPO.

Evergreens cannot usually have a

Regarding evergreens, a complaint
can be made to the council and they will deal with them under the nuisance tree
legislation but only with regard to the height. They want £300 fee to start the process and if they
find that the trees are a nuisance, they can compel a tree owner to cut them
down to 2 m high.

With regard to branches and roots
growing boundary,(evergreen or deciduous) these are nuisance and trespass. The
overhanging pieces can be chopped off as can roots growing underground but they
do not belong to anyone other than the tree owner, so the pieces should be
given back although if they are unceremoniously dumped over their hedge without
warning, it is not good for already fraught neighbour relations.

If a person is unable to cut the
overhanging themselves and they have to get outside contractors in, they are
entitled to recover the cost of that work from the neighbour

The following are links will give
you some reading with regard to high hedges and nuisance trees. Don't worry
about where the sites are geographically because the rules apply nationwide.



So, whilst the neighbour may have a claim against you for criminal
damage and trespass, he has no claim against you provided your lonely cut off
overhanging pieces.

With regard to the pine needles, this is possibly cause for a
counterclaim in common-law nuisance although I am not aware that any successful
claims for leaves or pine needles have ever been before the court. It is
certainly worth trying if the neighbour does start any proceedings.

You can also defend it on the basis of
the nuisance tree legislation that the local authority could have compelled him
to cut them down to 2 m in any event, so he has not really lost anything

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