Neighbours Damaging Tree

  Cara2 19:24 21 Mar 2012

After several years of battling against the damage a neighbours tree causes to our property roof, we are now wondering what our rights are?

The tree is a huge sycamore. This year it is bringing down the guttering which overflows with all the debris from the tree. Water cascades down our walls. Our roof is badly affected with the effects of algae etc. My husband cuts it back as best as he can, but it is generally getting the better of us - the task is overfacing.

I know we can cut off branches and must 'offer them back' but we can no longer cope. This tree requires industrial syle tree maintenance. We have discussed the issue with the neighbour, but he seems unwilling to do anything radical.

Do we have any rights as such?

  TonyV 20:06 21 Mar 2012


I was under the impression that you are allowed to "prune" the branches that over hang your property and on that basis, if you have spoken to your neighbour about the problem, who declines to do anything, I would be inclined to employ a tree surgeon and get him to ensure your property is not liable to very expensive damage through no fault of yours.

You do not have to go on to your neighbours property to carry out the operation, but as you say, you can return the off cuts to him unless they would rather you did it and got the Tree Surgeon to shred the material and either take it away or perhaps you use it to lay across you garden as a weed preventative.

It is not a happy situation, but I wish you well.


  Cara2 20:11 21 Mar 2012

Thank you for your reply.

The phrase "prune the branches" makes it sound so easy! These are potential logs rather than branches! I suspect it would be very expensive to employ a tree surgeon. Would we have to pay? It is not our tree.

  Bingalau 20:27 21 Mar 2012

Can't you ask the local authority to remove the tree on the grounds that it is dangerous.

Get your own back and plant a leylandi (Spelling?) hedge in a position where it will, in a few years time, stop any light getting to your neighbour's property and see how they like it.

  TonyV 20:49 21 Mar 2012


Yes, you would have to pay, but maybe, as Bingalau suggests, have a word with your local council and see what they recommend. You could always get a few quotations locally from Tree Surgeons and see what the costs are likely to be. Unfortunately, I can't help you there, but there will be someone near to you if you do a check on the Internet for Tree Surgeons in your area.


  john bunyan 21:43 21 Mar 2012

Re costs. I paid for a big lump to be cut off the top of a neighbours Ash tree - £200. (She could not afford it and it was shading my greenhouse, and she was grateful) I had a big sycamore in my garden removed and stump ground wit all debis removed and raked ready for grass seed. Tree was about 40 ft high with trunk of about 3 - 4 ft dianeter wit a rockery at base. Cost - just over £500.Just to give you an idea of price range. Most Councils have a tree officer - yours may give advice.

  birdface 21:52 21 Mar 2012

If the wind normally blows toward your neighbors house you can always get someone in to dig up and cut the roots on your side of the fence.

Warn your neighbors that you are going to remove the roots on your side of the fence and you will not be liable for any damage done to his property.

If by chance your neighbors has a council house then the tree is the property of the council and they are liable for any damage caused to your house.

  Forum Editor 22:37 21 Mar 2012

You are entitled to cut the roots of this tree along your boundary line, even if it results in the death of the tree, and your neighbour is certainly liable if falling leaves cause damage by blocking your gutters. You can sue for damages in such a case.

Be aware that if you cut branches back beyond the line of your boundary you will commit a trespass, even if you stayed on your side of the boundary to do it.

Disputes over trees are very common, and it's not unusual for them to become extremely acrimonious. The best advise is always to try to resolve matters between you before resorting to more vigorous action. if your attempts at negotiation fail however, you can always approach your local authority with a view to them issuing an enforcement notice. They have the power to do this if the tree is likely to affect the stability of your property, or if it is causing a 'nuisance'. Most authorities are loath to act unless they are satisfied that all attempts at negotiation have failed.

  spuds 08:26 22 Mar 2012

Having had some recent experiences of something similar, there are a number of ways that you could try in resolving the issues, but be warned, it can get very complicated and costly.

If you have household insurance with a 'legal' cover added, then use that, because most of these type of cover, have neighbour disputes options. You could also seek out a No Fee No Win legal firm, who deal in neighbour disputes. If it does go to court, then expect a possible long drawn out affair, with an hefty bill, which you might need to part pay up-front, before action begins. If you do have 'legal cover', then check out the policy wording, because over the past few years, the firms dealing with this, may only offer advice in case of council owner involvement. The claim for possible court action (if applicable) would also have to be 'new' and not something to cover a very old dispute. Verbal and written advice should or would be free, under the terms of the policy cover. They may provide the wording and legal jargon, so that you could write a letter to your neighbour or property owner.

If the neighbours property is rented, then take the issues up with the property owner, whether they are council, housing association or private landlord.

In the case of council owned, then things can get rather complicated, as you may well expect. If the neighbour planted the tree, then the property owner (council etc) would most likely have a clause in the tenancy agreement about damage and tenants responsibility. In the case of council owned, many council's received large amount of special funding for tree planting, and this as made some 'tree hugging' council's very reluctant in becoming involved with tree removal and disputes, except if it is a serious public health and safety issue. The old issues regarding right to light seems none existent nowadays.

In my particular case, the offending tree (plus two other tree's) have now been removed. It just leaves the ongoing discussions about payment or action for damage and possible stump and root removal!.

So perhaps in a nutshell, you might need to have a friendly neighbour or property owner who is willing to help?.

  Cara2 11:27 22 Mar 2012

Thank you for all your replies.

Good suggestions made - plenty to think about.

  Woolwell 11:31 22 Mar 2012

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that you need to make sure that the tree hasn't got a tree preservation order on it. These can be a pain.

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