Branches or roots from my neighbour’s tree are growing over my boundary. What can I do?

Under ‘common law’, you may be able to prune branches and roots which grow over your boundary.

However, you also have a legal duty to take ‘reasonable care’ whilst undertaking any works and you may be liable if you damage the tree or cause it to become unstable.

It is therefore unwise to undertake works without first consulting a qualified arboriculturist (tree expert), ideally approved by the Arboricultural Association.

You should also check with the Council prior to undertaking any works to make sure that the trees are not protected.

Can I get my neighbour to cut back or reduce the height of their trees or hedge?

In most situations the simple answer to this is no. You have a common law right to prune back parts of a tree or hedge growing over the boundary into your property (subject to any legal restrictions being overcome first such as Tree Preservation Orders or conservation areas) but you cannot compel the owner of the trees or hedge to carry out this work or pay for it. As a general rule you have no legal right to a view which has been obscured by your neighbour’s trees.

If your neighbour owns an evergreen hedge close to your property you can make a formal complaint to your Local Planning Authority (LPA) under the High Hedges legislation as set out in Part 8 of the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003. There is usually a charge for this process. The LPA will consider the complaint using standard government guidance set out in a document called Hedge Height and Light Loss. If your complaint is successful the LPA will determine an Action Height to which the height of the hedge must be reduced.

If your neighbour’s tree or hedge is dangerous and is a hazard to your property then there is action that can usually be taken. In this situation you should contact an arboricultural consultant for further advice.

It is always better to settle a dispute about trees amicably and it is recommended that you try to resolve it by talking to your neighbours first.

Further information:

Can I stop my neighbour building close to my tree?

You may be able to depending on the importance of the tree, the nature of the building proposed and distance between the proposed building and the tree in question.

If the building work proposed requires planning consent, all trees which could potentially be affected by the development (including those on adjoining property) should be assessed by an arboricultural consultant in accordance with British Standard BS5837:2012 Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations, and details of this assessment submitted with the planning application. The Local Planning Authority should consider how the proposed development will affect trees in accordance with the same document and, if the process works correctly, this should prevent unacceptable damage from occurring to your tree. If you are concerned, you should instruct an arboricultural consultant to assist and if necessary, make a formal objection to the planning application within the statutory timeframe.

If the work proposed does not require planning consent, it may be less easy for you to influence. If your tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or is located within a conservation area, legislation relating to tree protection overrides that of permitted development rights, and developers will risk prosecution if protected trees are damaged. If you consider that your tree provides sufficient public amenity value to warrant protection by a TPO, you can make a formal request to the Local Planning Authority to place a TPO on your tree. An arboricultural consultant can advise you on these matters.

Further information:

Distancetpotree preservation orderlocal planning authoritybuildingconstructionneighbour

Find a Professional
If you need advice or tree management services - always use an Arb Approved Contractor (Tree work) or a Registered Consultant (Arboricultural consultant).

Newsletter sign up

Arboricultural Association
The Malthouse, Stroud Green, Standish, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire GL10 3DL

Arboricultural Association Ltd. A company registered in England at The Malthouse, Stroud Green, Standish, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire GL10 3DL, UK. Company number 4070377.
+44 (0)1242 522152 |

The Arboricultural Association is a registered charity no. 1083845.

Copyright © 2021 The Arboricultural Association. All rights reserved.
chevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram