Trees and Woodland
Trees on neighbouring property
Is it a tree or a hedge?
If the trees consist of 2 or more mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs that are over 2 metres tall, then please go to our High Hedges page.
We have very limited powers to deal with trees on private land. We can only get involved where the trees are considered to be dangerous.
We advise you to try your best to settle any disputes with your neighbour. We do not offer a dispute resolution service.
What rights do I have over my neighbour's trees?
You can trim branches or the roots of a tree if they cross into your property from a neighbour's property or from a public road. However, the cuttings are the property of your neighbour. You should either offer to return them, or agree for you to dispose of the waste. You must not throw any cuttings back over the fence. This could be classed as fly-tipping and you might get in trouble.
You can only trim up to your property boundary. If you do more than this, your neighbour might be able to take legal action against you for damaging their property.
You are not allowed to remove any height from the trees, or do anything that is likely to kill or destroy the tree.
You are not allowed to enter your neighbours land to do any work, unless they have given you permission.
If you decide to do any work to the tree, you have to pay for the work yourself. Your neighbour does not have to contribute. We also do not have to fund or contribute to any work done to trees on private land.
Conservation Areas and Tree Preservation Orders
Each application is judged on its own merit, but we are unlikely to grant consent to do any work on one side of a protected tree. You need to do your best to work with your neighbour to resolve any issues.
Who can I employ to do the work?
Any tree work should be done by a competent, qualified and insured arborist. All work should be done to British Standards.
I don't know who owns the tree
All land in England is owned by someone. You can find out who owns a piece of land by doing a Land Registry search. This service is provided by central Government, not by us, and you will have to pay a charge. The land where the tree is may show up as being unregistered. if this happens, you can use a solicitor specialising in the law regarding land to carry out a more detailed search on your behalf.
My neighbour's tree is dangerous
The maintenance of a tree is the responsibility of its owner. They are liable for any damage that the tree causes. We have powers to deal with dangerous trees. But before we intervene, you need to show that you have:
- discussed the issue with your neighbour - keep a diary of when the discussions happened and what was said
- written to your neighbour - keep a copy of your letter and any reply
- obtained an independent arborist's report that confirms that the tree is dangerous. You will have to pay for any report yourself
Once we have confirmation that you have done all of this, we will make a site visit and assess the situation. If we decide that action is necessary, we will take the following action:
- Stage 1 - we will write to your neighbour asking them to do the required work, and giving them 28 days to get the work done
- Stage 2 - after 28 days, we will write to your neighbour again to insist that they do the work and to tell them that we will take further action if they don't. Again, your neighbour will have 28 days to get the work done
- Stage 3 - if the work still isn't done, we will issue a notice ordering your neighbour to have the work done in 14 days
- Stage 4 - if the work is not done, we will enter the property and do the work ourselves. We will then get the costs of the work back from your neighbour
If there is an imminent risk to people or property, we can go straight to Stage 3 and issue a notice.
My neighbour's tree is causing a nuisance
We do not have any powers to make tree owners prune or maintain their trees. If trees overhang your property and cause excessive damage, then you may have a claim against your neighbour.You should get some independent legal advice. However, we strongly advise you to try to resolve any dispute with your neighbour before taking any legal action.
Falling leaves, fruit, flowers, sap and bird droppings are not legal nuisances. It is up to the owner of the affected property to make sure that their porperty is kept clear of any debris.
My neighbour's tree is blocking light
Unfortunately, you do not have an automatic legal right to light, unless this right is included in the title of your property. Check your deeds to see if the right to light is written in to them.
You may have a right to light if your property has had daylight for over 20 years, although you will not have a right to direct sunlight or to light on your garden.
We have no powers to deal with a neighbour's tree blocking light. You will need to seek independent legal advice.
If light is being restricted by two or more evergreen trees growing as ahedge, then this might fall under legislation that deals with high hedges. Check our High Hedges page for more information.