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LondonlawyerJ, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 822
Experience:  Solicitor with over 15 years experience.
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I live on a private estate. It says on the deeds of my house

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I live on a private estate. It says on the deeds of my house that the verge in front of it is owned by the estate and that I have to maintain it. A couple of years ago we planted five yucca trees on the verge. We are now being asked to remove them on the basis that the land is not ours to plant them on. So far I have refused to renove them but the estate are now threatening me with legal action and are threatening to come and cut them down. I have been maintaining the verge for 12 years. Do I have any defence to this such as adverse ownership and can the destroy my trees? My wife who is very ill plsnted these and it is upsetting her terribly. I expect to get a solicitors letter in the next few week. Please can you advise me what I should do as the trees look lovely and I dont want to remove them
Hello, I am a solicitor with 20 years experience. I will try to help you with this.
I doubt that you can argue that you own the verge. You have planted on it but have not enclosed it? But to answer fully on that I need to know when you moved in and when your wife planted the Yucca Trees.
Your better argument might be that you are maintaining the verge by planting the trees. Is there anything in the deeds stating how the verges should be maintained eg are they described as grass verges to eb maintained.
Who is asking you to remove them. Is there a management committee. Is it a company? If so are you a shareholder in it? What do your neighbours think about the trees?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We moved in in 2005 and planted the trees in approx 2010. The verge is not enclosed. I have not seen the deeds and what we are expected to maintain but it probably amounts to mowing the lawn or else has a generic statement.

I think the advice I need at this stage is two fold. 1. What should I do when I receive a solicitors letter asking me to remove the trees? and 2. Can the estate management committee of which I am not a shareholder just come round and remove/destroy my trees?

It sounds like you will have to get rid of the trees if it contradicts your duties set out in the deeds.
1 You should probably either agree to do so or agree to let them do it? After 2 years how tall are the trees? I suspect that it is not a very big job to remove them.
2 They may well be able to do this as although you call them your trees they are not on your property but are on property (I think) administered by the whole estate and probably owned collectively.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

What do you mean by 'duties set out in the deeds'?

ie the maintennance of the verge as described by you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Why should maintenance of the verge stop me planting the trees? Does it not need to say specifically in the deeds that I cant plant anything on the verge? Could I not argue for instance that the trees prevent people driving over the verge?

Indeed that was the suggestion in my original answer to you. Earlier in this conversation you suggested that the clause required you to mow the lawn. You need to look at the terms of the clause if you want an answer on the meaning of the duty.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Are you saying then that unless the deeds state that I cannot plant anything on the verge there is nothing to stop me doing so?

No, I am not. It is likely that theses issues if not covered specifically in the deeds will be set out elsewhere. eg in some ancillary document or in a constitution if you have one for the estate or devolved to the authority of the management company etc.
If you do not know where the authority is then you should ask the people threatening you where they claim their authority to demand this lies. Then get a copy and then consider it.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for being so patient with replies. I clearly need documents from the estate to continue with this and to make a sensible call. If I close this now and need to reopen in say three weeks time how do I get you to continue dealing with it as wont want to open a completely new question just add to the existing information?

I think this question will close automatically in the next couple of weeks and you may need to place a new question.
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