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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10239
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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Can I trim a neighbours leylandii tree that is overhanging

Customer Question

Can I trim a neighbours leylandii tree that is overhanging my garden
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 1 year ago.

Is there any reason you think you may not be able to ?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Remus sorry I had to cut short our last conversation but something urgent came up.
My neighbour has planted some Leylandii trees at the bottom of my garden which have grown to a height of 6 meters or more and I asked him if he would please cut them down to a more reasonable height, he refused so I went to the local council to try to make him.
The council gave the forms to file in which were a copy of forms as recommended by the office of the deputy prime minister to work out what should be the recommended maximum height and this was worked out by the area of the garden.
After working it out the recommended maximum height for my garded was 2.3 metres but the surveyor said that as she saw it 5.5 metres was fine.
As the trees have grown to such a height they of course they they spread out and the trees now hang over my boundary by about 60cm and I wondered if I could legally cut them back.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

I have been asked to look at this for you.

The local authority have the power to have the trees cut down to 2 m but, just because they have the power to do that, doesn’t mean that they have to do it. What they have to do is look at the nuisance element and make a decision. That’s what they are doing, looking at the guidelines.

You are entitled to cut off anything which overhangs the boundary because that is trespass. If you get people into do the job, you are entitled to charge the name for those costs but you must give him the opportunity of doing the work himself first. You cannot keep the pieces because they do not belong to you, you must give them back to the neighbour.

Now, here is an interesting point for you. If these trees are now 5.5 m high, then cutting all the overhanging branches is going to be a job needing ladders there safer, some kind of scaffolding frame/tower and hence, even though they may be some distance from the house, there is an argument that they are still nuisance because of the proximity to the boundary and the overhang.

You could always bring a private claim in nuisance against the neighbour and of doing so, because of the risk of paying costs if your claim is not successful, you might want to check your house insurances to see if you have legal expenses cover that would pay for the legal costs.

If you don’t want to go to court and risk those legal costs you could make a formal complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman about the councils reasonable behaviour in dealing with this and the problem is that it’s causing for you. At least complaining to the Ombudsman is at no charge and it is risk-free.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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Best wishes.