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Michael Holly
Michael Holly, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 7071
Experience:  BA honours degree in law, over 20 years experience in litigation, contract and property matters
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I own a house in Bristol and there is a construction

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I own a house in Bristol and there is a construction site neighbouring the bottom of my garden. They are building houses that will back onto my property. I have trees at the bottom of my garden and I think that the work will damage them as it will effect the roots. The construction company also tell me that they can cut back the overhanging branches, under common law. I am more concerned with the roots. What is my legal situation, and what and how do I need to communicate with them?
Even though the trees were there first the land is now owned by the construction company and they are entitled to remove roots that are encroaching. They are not supposed to do so in a way that will kill the tree.I would ask for assurances that any cutting/ tree management undertaken will be done by a professional company of tree surgeons and make it clear that if they do damage you will take action.I hope this helps if there are any further points please reply.Best regardsMichaelI hope this
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What action can I take if the tree is damaged?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I mean, if the trees do die as a result of their work, what can I do about it? Also, what specific wording should I use to get their assurance, what do I need them to say, and should I ask for it in writing? Would it be more powerful if I asked a solicitor to write the letter on my behalf?
You can sue for the replacement value. Mature trees cost a small fortune.I would say to them that you appreciate that some roots may need to be cut and you accept that they have the right to do this. Saying this establishes that you are aware of the legal position. However, I would go on to say that you are aware that any cutting must be done in using reasonable care and skill to avoid damaging the tree and that if one of your trees is damaged by negligent cutting you will claim the replacement value of a mature tree. I would ask for a written assurance that any major cutting of roots in undertaken by a qualified tree surgeon.MichaelBest regardsMichaelYou can get a solicitor to do this but they will say the same thing
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
and does the same apply to the pruning of overhanging branches?
Yes they have a common law right to prune overhanging branches but must do so in a way that does not kill the tree. They must also give back the branches that they cut.Michael
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Response from construction company is below - what can I do? Is it really my responsibility to get a tree surgeon to do the cutting?:"If the roots need cutting we will take care but cannot guarantee anything. It will carried out by groundworkers not by tree surgeons.
We will trim the trees that overhang but as there is a considerable amount again I cannot guarantee anything. I would suggest the best option is for you to employ a tree surgeon and we will allow them to access the trees from our side.
I will check but think there is only 4 or 5 trees not 6. For your information whoever trimmed the trees previously left all the cuttings on our land which we have now removed."
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think he is suggesting the tree surgeon organised by me for the branches, not the roots, which he saus will be done by groundworkers.
He is suggesting that if you wish to employ a tree surgeon to cut branches and roots they will give you access to do so. Otherwise cutting will be done where necessary to achieve building objectives.Reasonable care for a building worker would need to be used and you are very likely to be compensated for damage done but they are putting the ball in your court concerning professional management.Michael
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK, so nothing I can do until and unless the trees are damaged?
Yes , apart from warning them you know you are not powerless and know where you stand.Michael
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