A neighbour dispute is a conflict or disagreement between two neighbours. The cause of neighbour disputes is often one of a number of things such as trees and hedges, property boundaries, or access. These types of disputes can cause stress and frustration for all parties involved as well as result in damage to the relationship between the neighbours. Contacting a solicitor to help guide you through your rights and the process of reaching a resolution can be invaluable.
In the UK, the owner of a tree or a hedge is typically the owner of the land that the tree or hedge is planted on and this ownership can often be verified through property deeds or Land Registry documents. The owner of a tree or hedge is responsible for ensuring that the plant is maintained and trimmed in order to prevent posing a hazard to others.
However, if there are branches or parts of a hedge that cross the boundary line between your property and a neighbour’s property, the neighbour has the right to trim the plant back to boundary line. In the event of this, the trimmings from the tree or hedge must be offered back to the owner.
When it comes to disputes between neighbours, it is often the first and preferred step for both parties to resolve the issue informally without escalating to legal action or formal complaints. Resolving tree and hedge disputes informally requires open and respectful communication between both parties as well as an understanding of the law in order to not infringe on each other’s rights.
Another option for informal resolution for these types of disputes is through mediation. During mediation an unbiased third party will consider both sides of the dispute and try to guide both parties to an amicable solution.
When it comes to trees and hedges on your property there are certain rights and responsibilities that you need to be aware of regarding things such as overhanging branches, height, and more.
While there isn’t much you can do to prevent a tree from growing overhanging branches, it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that the tree and its branches are maintained and that they don’t pose a hazard to others.
It is also important to remember that if a tree’s branches overhang the property line between you and your neighbour, the neighbour has the right to trim the branches back to the property line.
While there is no legal limit on the height of a tree, the owner must maintain the tree to certain standard so that it does not pose a hazard to others. Additionally, if the tree blocks light from entering a neighbour’s garden, they have they right to raise a dispute with you in order to resolve the issue as issues related to tree height and light obstruction are governed under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.
If a tree is planted on the boundary line of two properties it falls under shared ownership and is the responsibility of both homeowners. This means that both parties are responsible for the maintenance of the tree and must first come to an agreement on any significant changes.
While there is no restriction on the height of a hedge, a “high hedge” is defined as a line of two or more evergreens that are more than 2 metres in height and a property owner can be required to maintain the hedge no higher than 2 metres. Again, it is the owner’s responsibility to maintain the hedge but if the hedge obstructs light from entering a neighbour’s garden they raise a dispute or complaint.
If you believe that you have taken all reasonable steps to resolve the dispute yourself, then you may make a complaint to the council. However, the council may reject your complaint if they believe that reasonable steps haven’t been taken prior to raising the complaint.
If you believe that a tree owned by a neighbour poses a hazard to others, you must first try to resolve the issue informally. If you have exhausted all other informal channels, you may then contact your local council to raise a complaint. However, we recommend seeking the advice of a solicitor in order to prevent any escalation of the dispute.
Similarly with high hedges, you must try to resolve the dispute with your neighbour informally before resorting to formal actions such as raising a complaint with the council.
There are a number of options available to you when it comes to seeking professional help. The first step that we recommend is contacting a solicitor who will be able to guide you through the best options in order to achieve your desired outcome. A solicitor can help you understand your own rights and responsibilities as well as offer mediation services to help resolve the dispute amicably.
You may also want to consult with a tree surgeon in order to determine the best and safest course of action to making changes to the plant.
Experiencing a neighbourly disagreement can be incredibly stressful, especially when it pertains to shared boundaries, overhanging foliage, or the right to unobstructed light.
At Lovedays Solicitors, we understand the intricacies of such disputes and the impact they can have on your peace of mind. Whether it's mediation services or expert legal counsel, our team is committed to providing a clear path forward. Don't let the weight of conflict burden you any longer, get in touch today.
If you don’t know your leasehold from your freehold, then get our Free Conveyancing Guide. It contains details about the steps you will need to take with any property transactions. The Guide giving you detailed guidance on what your lawyer will be doing for you and what to look out for.
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