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SolicitorRM
SolicitorRM, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
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Experience:  Director and Principal Solicitor. UK
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I paid a tree surgeon to pollard a neighbours Eucalyptus

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I paid a tree surgeon to pollard a neighbours Eucalyptus tree (I have photos of before and after). The neighbour is away in Spain with his girlfriend and children and is renting out his property. The tree was about 50 feet high and shaded our garden and his.
He left for Spain 3 years ago without leaving any contact details. He left without warning, apart from the day of departure, when he told my wife that he was leaving for an undisclosed time and would rent out his house. He did leave a mobile with his other neighbour. This neighbour sent a WhatsApp message, asking on my behalf, if it was “ok to trim the tree in his garden” and stating that it was getting larger and overlapping. The owner of the tree stated “yes no problem of course do what you need to”. I have a photo of this WhatsApp exchange, which I used as permission that I could pollard the tree. The pollarding was done by a qualified tree surgeon with boards and tarpaulin placed in the neighbours’ garden to protect his plants and AstroTurf. He is now returning to the UK and he isn’t happy.
My basic questions are: 1. Did I really have permission to do what I want? and 2. Is it completely illegal to enter a neighbour’s garden and pollard their tree, no matter what the reason?
In explanation, the neighbour didn’t leave any contact details with me, so I understood he didn’t want me to communicate with him. I could have tried, but he didn’t try either.
He is under the impression that I have killed the tree and it is referred to as a “stump”. It is in fact a 16ft high pollarded tree, which is a big difference. The downside is it will take a while for the new growth to show. If I had known of his imminent return I would have not done what I did, due to the time scales involved.
We are talking via email and I have said that I am sorry for the stress caused. Not for doing what I did. He wants a proper discussion when he returns. Unfortunately the email exchange is interesting. He reads things that I haven’t said and twists things to express his hurt. My worry is that nothing will make him happy, apart from turning back time.
I am trying to get hold of my tree surgeon to check that we didn’t kill the tree (never my intention). I am also trying to get a second opinion on the pollarding and the timescale for new growth to appear.
Thank you for your time.
Kind regards Mike
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: No. I don't want to end up in court but I would like to know if I was in the wrong or not. If I am in the wrong I will make a bigger effort to molify him and make up for the hurt. If I did have permission due to the WhatsApp message then I will be in a stronger position to limit my response apart from trying to be kind and helpful. Does that answer your question>
JA: Where is the house located?
Customer: We are two terraced houses in Charlon, Royol Borough of Greenwich
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: The tree was about 50 feet high and 50 feet from both of our properties. A eucalyptus free is described as unsuitable for small and medium gardens by the RHS. The tree was planted by the previous owner of the house.

Good evening, welcome to just answer. I am a solicitor and I am reviewing your question for you.

Hi, thank you for your patience, Yes you need authority to do anything with trees in another's garden especially if cutting. You do have the whatsapp message and he did not qualify his message so you can treat it an unfettered permission and hopefully you did not "kill" the tree. He will be able to assess when he returns and you can take a view at that stage. Any clarification please do not hesitate to send your follow up message. All the best.

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Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Thank you for your reponse. The request was to "trim" the tree. I was drastic in my pollarding but this was to offset more (expensive) work later on. I also had no idea of his imminent return. In two or three years time, the tree will look a lot better. I just hope he has the patience. I will make a peace offering of a new fence, but there will be a limit to my expenses. I just wanted to check if I was completely in the wrong or there was a good perception of approval from him for my actions. Take care Mike

You are welcome, You would not be completely in the wrong where you used a professional tree surgeon and their professional advice was to go as far as they did. I think it is best to not worry in anticipation and see what he says when he sees it in person.