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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10401
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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Boundary Hedge. Our new neighbour has just "popped round" to

Customer Question

Boundary Hedge.
Our new neighbour has just "popped round" to tell me her husband is going to chop down "their" hedge, which forms the boundary between our garden and theirs.
It is a mature smart beech hedge about 7ft high. I have always maintained our side of the hedge and as far as I'm aware the hedge forms the boundary between our properties on two sides. However the new owner of the adjoining property tells me its their hedge - do idea how they deciphered that??
We have made it clear we will be very unhappy, as we view it as the boundary, it's a lovely feature and gives us privacy in the summer months.
Our concern is that we go away for a weekend and return to find it chopped down.
Where do we stand on this, how can i determine whether it is in fact theirs or whether it is the boundary.
Last thing I want is a property neighbourly dispute we have to log when we sell the home.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

Thank you for your question - how long has the hedge been there?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
At least 30-40 yrs. Probably when a bit of land from our garden was sold to the owners of their property. c. 1967
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

It is very difficult to actually deal with a boundary dispute (which what this is after all) without there actually being a dispute, if you know what I mean. You either raise the issue and it becomes a dispute or you put up and shut up which is obviously not satisfactory because then you don’t get what you want.

And so having taken all that into account if the neighbour won’t play ball and you suspect that the neighbour is simply going to rip the hedge out or chop it down to its roots one weekend when you are out or when you’re on holiday or something like that, then your only remedy is to apply to court for an emergency injunction to stop them doing that pending a hearing to determine ownership of the hedge.

A survey by a boundary expert is probably going to cost about £600 plus VAT and may actually decide (likely based upon what you told me) that it is a party feature.

If it is not a party feature because it is not on the boundary but offset slightly to their side, and they decide they want to get rid of it out, they can do so provided there are no nesting birds. If there were, then it is a matter for the local authority and the RSPB

I am assuming that it doesn’t fall within any of these parameters:

if it is, then the statutory provisions would really help you. I think it unlikely but I mention for completeness.

What I think probably happened here is that when the sellers were selling the property they have simply port in the Property Information Form that the hedge between the two of you was either owned and/or maintained by them. However just because they have said that doesn’t necessarily mean that the ownership which they have claimed is correct.

If you don’t want to get into a full-blown dispute (a solicitors letter may be a bit confrontational) it might be an idea to “pop around” to the neighbour and tell them that you were a bit taken aback but what they said earlier and having thought about this, and what’s happened over the last few years, you believe that the hedge is actually on the boundary and therefore jointly owned and whilst you don’t mind them taking it down to about 2 m, you would rather it was left in position as it is.

Depending on the reaction, you may then need to get the solicitors letter and/or the application to court for an injunction to stop them touching it.

As I said, if they are determined to go ahead it’s very difficult to stop it becoming a neighbour dispute unless you simply let them have carte blanche.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Please take a moment to look at the top right hand corner of the page and rate my service by clicking one of the stars at the top of the screen. Then press Submit. Thank you. If you still need any point clarifying, I will still reply because the thread does not close.

Best wishes.