Must-know Laws about Neighbours’ Trees

Our team have answered some of the most asked and most interesting questions about trees and the law, including questions to do with your neighbour’s trees and hedges.

Our tree surgeons get asked a variety of questions, and sometimes those questions are to do with tree laws. We’ve rounded up some of the most common and interesting questions our team has been asked recently. However, it could be beneficial to seek independent legal advice for your exact situation.

Common questions about trees and the law

What are the rules about Neighbour’s trees?

The English Common Law states that a property owner isn’t obligated to cut their trees back even when they overhang onto another property. However, a neighbour is within their right to cut trees back to their property boundary if desired. 

This is why electricity companies are permitted to cut back your trees if they overhang in areas that they manage, such as near electricity wires. It’s also the reason why the council can come and cut back your trees if they overhang and block a footpath. In the case of the latter, the council could even send you a bill for their work. 

Who is liable if a neighbour’s tree falls and damages my property?

Trees are the responsibility of the owner of the land where they grow, regardless of who planted them. The owner could be liable to cover damages if a fallen tree damages a neighbour’s property. 

However, you might need to show evidence that the neighbour has been negligent, such as neglecting diseased trees that made the trees compromised during a storm. If you have concerns about a nearby tree on someone else’s land, it’s best to put your concerns in writing and suggest a tree surgeon complete a tree health assessment. Keep a copy of the letter as evidence.  

What can I do if my Neighbour’s trees are too high?

Citizens Advice recommends considerately bringing up the issue of high trees or hedges with your neighbour directly. But if your neighbour refuses to cooperate, you might be able to take further action. 

You can write to the local council and ask for a High Hedge Notice to order the neighbour to cut a hedge or tree back. There must be at least two trees that are at least two metres high, or a single tree that blocks the light to your property. You cannot enter their property to measure trees, so you will have to make estimates from a distance. 

Can I pick the fruit from a neighbour’s tree that overhangs into my property boundary?

Interesting question – and the answer is maybe. Fruit that falls from a tree is considered “abandoned” in the eyes of the law. So, you could pick up and keep any fruit that falls from a neighbour’s tree onto your land. However, if a branch falls with the fruit still attached, this is still considered the tree owner’s property, so you would need to ask them what they would like you to do with it. 

Who is responsible for trees that grow on a property boundary?

It’s quite rare for a tree to sit on the boundary line between two or more properties, but it isn’t completely unheard of. A tree that sits on a property boundary is jointly owned. You’re officially “tenants in common” of this tree. There must be a joint agreement before felling this tree. 

Is my neighbour liable for their tree leaves blocking my gutter?

It’s unlikely that the law will hold the neighbour accountable for blocked gutters because tree leaves fall seasonally and are predominantly out of their control. If this is an issue it’s best to raise the problem with your neighbour to work out a solution. 

Is my neighbour liable for damaged paths and driveways due to their tree roots?

It’s possible that your neighbour could be deemed liable for damage caused to pathways, driveways and even property foundations, but only if they planted the tree knowing the damage could occur. If you’re worried about this issue, you can always seek advice from qualified tree surgeons and speak to your neighbour. 

Contact us with any tree question today!

There are no silly questions at NJ Apps. Get in touch with our friendly and qualified tree surgeons to ask your questions. We can even visit your site to conduct a free initial consultation and provide accurate quotes with no obligation to proceed.