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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 16009
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My neighbours tree is blocking daylight and really is

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Hi, my neighbours tree is blocking daylight and really is overhanging into our garden. I know I can cut back to the boundaries but it is too tall for us to even start trimmed. It is almost 10m tall and once it reaches 10m our home insurance wants to know.
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: I have offered to get quotes and even go halves but he is refusing to do that. There is also a lot of ivy now that's eating into our wooden fence. Damaging the panels.
JA: Where is the home located?
Customer: Poole Dorset
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Just to say I made contact twice and they are refusing to cut it back. I can't physically reach and think it would be very unfair if we have to pay for a professional to trim the tree or sort out our fence. I have tried to be civil but did not get anywhere. I have spoken to the council but I cannot afford to pay £350 for them to get involved. I just wanted to know what rights I have in regards ***** ***** situation. Thank you

Good morning. I will assist with your question - be aware this is an email not chat service.

what is this tree? conifer or decidious?

are they council prepared to get involved if you pay the £350 or is it 'just to look'?

Customer: replied 2 day ago.
I don't really know what type it is but it's not a conifer I know that much. It has some form of orange berries on now. As far as I understand the council will get involved but can't guarantee that I will "win" if that makes sense.

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 TPO.

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 you are not capable of doing this yourself or do not want to do it yourself, you can charge the neighbour for the cost of doing the work provided you give the neighbour noticed that if they don’t trim it, you will have to get someone in to do it.

You are not allowed to kill the tree or cut the routes back so far that you destabilise it.

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.

with regard to the right to light, it needs to have blocked out 50% of your light before it becomes actionable. I can tell you now, that is unlawful what of light.

The problem for you is that if the neighbour simply ignores you, you can’t beat them with a stick until they capitulate and your only remedy is to take them to court. The court fee alone is GBP208 although if you are on benefits you can actually get fee remission. There is no magic way of getting the neighbour to capitulate and sort the trees if he simply doesn’t want to do it or refuses, regardless of the reason.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

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.

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Thank you.

If you still need any points clarifying, I will still reply because the thread does not close.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 2 day ago.
Ok that's great thank you. Sorry just to clarify, if I write to my neighbour rather then doing it verbally saying that I will be able to get someone to trim the tree (to the boundaries because it is so tall and the branches are too thick we can't physically do it ourselves) we can then make him pay for it? Obviously giving him a fair amount of time to cut the tree back himself. Have I got that right?
What about the Ivy that's eating into our fence panels? His Ivy, again not maintained, is starting to damage our fence panels, is that his responsibility too? Or are we having to pay for a new fence? I am just trying to avoid two separate issues if I can put it all in one letter if that makes sense? It just a shame that we try to improve and maintain our property/ garden and his unkept garden is damaging some of our garden fence.
Thank you

You can indeed tell him that if you have to get someone in, you will be seeking the costs from him, through the County Court of necessary.

It’s not unreasonable to give him 4 weeks to do the work so give him a deadline of the end of July after which you will do it and take him to court for the costs you have paid.

You have a claim in negligence against him.

The same applies in respect of the ivy.

It will help if I explain how claims in negligence arise.

There needs to be

1. a duty of care

2. the duty of care needs to be breached

3. as a result of the breach there needs to be loss or injury

4. the loss or injury must be as a result of the breach

5. the loss or injury resulting from the breach must be reasonably foreseeable.

In order for there to be a claim in negligence, all 5 heads have to be satisfied.

So whatever it costs to remove it from your side and any damage to the fence panels is a further head of claim although you could do it all at the same time.

I am glad to help. Please don’t forget to use the rating service because it means that I can continue to provide affordable and timely legal advice to people with similar problems.

Although it says "rate to finish" it doesn't close the thread and we can still exchange emails.

You may need to login again to use the rating service.

Kind regards

F E Smith and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 day ago.
That's great, thank you for confirming that for me. It really is appreciated
Kind regards
Monika Wardlaw

It is my pleasure. I am glad to help. I hope you get it sorted.