Party wall experts, tree surgeons, and lawyers, assemble! Overhanging tree.

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  • Party wall experts, tree surgeons, and lawyers, assemble! Overhanging tree.
  • 5plusn8
    Member

    Neighbour at the end of my garden whom I have never met, has a huge tree rooted in his garden that at least 50% of it overhangs into my garden.
    I like the tree and don’t want to chop it down, but I would like them to trim back whats in my garden.
    The rules on who is responsible are a bit complex aren’t they?
    What is the correct procedure?

    cchris2lou
    Member

    you can cut them but offer to give what you cut back to him .

    thecaptain
    Member

    By trim back do you mean completely remove or just prune a bit? You can certainly do it yourself, might prove to be simpler than trying to force him to do it.

    You have to be careful here as you can’t chop it back so much it kills it even if you kindly give him all the offcuts! Plus make sure it doesn’t have a TPO or in conservation area or other protected status. As always would suggest you go round and discuss your concerns and what you would like to do.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    Check if tree has TPO on it.

    project
    Member

    Ampute all its limbs as they pass over your boundary, and throw them and the chipping back over your neighbour’s fence,what could possible happen a few birds lose their perches, for a few years

    Jakester
    Member

    5plusn8 – Member
    Neighbour at the end of my garden whom I have never met, has a huge tree rooted in his garden that at least 50% of it overhangs into my garden.
    I like the tree and don’t want to chop it down, but I would like them to trim back whats in my garden.
    The rules on who is responsible are a bit complex aren’t they?
    What is the correct procedure?

    As someone who arguably falls into two of the above three classes, what has
    trimming a tree got to do with party walls?

    5plusn8
    Member

    As someone who arguably falls into two of the above three classes, what has
    trimming a tree got to do with party walls?

    As someone who obviously knows nothing about all three how the hell should I answer this. There is a wall involved, its between me and him, we are the two parties..

    tinybits
    Member

    To be a little more helpful, part wall act applies where two hoses are joined, not over a garden wall so you can forget about this bit.

    Other advice about overhanging tree limbs and removing are correct. By law you have to offer them back, but you can’t just lob them back over the fence as that’s ‘littering’ weirdly.

    timber
    Member

    As already established, you can cut back to your boundary, subject to TPO’s, however not all trees are the same.
    What sort of tree and what are you looking to achieve?

    damascus
    Member

    I’d have a chat with the neighbours first and see if they have any plans to trim back the tree. They might do it for you or give you permission to do it.

    If they are a complete git over it, take your next steps wisely.

    drofluf
    Member

    If they are a complete git over it, take your next steps wisely.

    This, if you have plans to sell the house at some time in the future make sure that you do this amicably as you have to disclose any “disputes” with neighbours.

    Rockhopper
    Member

    The Part Wall Act applies equally to a garden boundary wall (but not a timber fence).

    5plusn8
    Member

    OK, between three neighbours we came to an agreement over the tree and the work has been done. I checked about the TPO and all was good there.
    I’m not 100% happy yet and need some advice..
    1) Neighbours agreed to reduce height and trim tree back a bit all round.
    2) Neighbours happy that all of the tree on my side could be trimmed back as much as I wanted.

    However on the day the tree surgeon said that he is concerned about taking off the tree on my side up to the fence as it would unbalance the tree (as there is lots of mass on my side and on the opposite side) and make it likely to fall into the neighbours garden.

    So I relented, but I wonder if I did trim it severely and it fell into the neighbours garden, is that my problem? Do I have a responsibility in that respect, I just want rid and it is kind of pissing me off that I have to put up with huge amounts of maintenance just so my neighbours can keep a bit of privacy from one direction only…

    “I like the tree” – well why do you want to completely remove it from your garden then?

    There’s a leylandii at the bottom of ours which blocks the sunlight in summer. Flippin hate it but fair play to the neighbour, he arranged for a tree surgeon to take about 20 foot off the top. Still too big but not as bad as it was.

    5plusn8
    Member

    well why do you want to completely remove it from your garden then?

    Because it drops litter by the **** ton. I don’t want it cut down, that is their issue, I would be happy if they did cut it down, however I don’t want it or its stuff in my garden.

    ehrob
    Member

    You said: “I like the tree”

    You also said: “I would be happy if they did cut it down”

    I’m no detective but it doesn’t sound like you’re that keen on the tree.

    5plusn8
    Member

    I like tigers, I just don’t want one in my garden…

    So back to the question, can I aggressively trim it, such that it would possibly unbalance it? IE if it falls is it my problem?

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
    Subscriber

    I like the tree and don’t want to chop it down

    But by the by.

    No you can’t interfere with someone else’s property to the point of damage or significant risk of failure (especially when explicitly warned about it by a qualified professional) then just shrug and walk away when it dies or collapses. Legally I’m pretty sure it’s criminal damage but i imagine the ramifications would be minimal assuming there is no injury to persons or major damage to property. socially speaking it would mark you out as a womble of the highest order. You may also find the death of the (huge) tree results in long term problems for drainage, subsidence etc.

    5plusn8
    Member

    Are you a lawyer then?

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
    Subscriber

    In stw tradition I’ll answer with a question: do you need to be a lawyer to know that deliberately damaging something which belongs to another person is (a) likely to be criminal, (b) not socially acceptable?

    Have you ever punched someone in the face on the basis you don’t explicitly know it’s illegal and have only ever been advised as such by unqualified folk? (On the basis you’d only ever have had it confirmed that it is illegal by a qualified professional if you had).

    Would it be more or less acceptable or just the same if the person were leaning over your garden fence when you punched them? What about if they were in your garden? Good forbid a Tory party activist canvassing at your door?

    Just in case though I’ll work on anology like you…

    I like cats, i don’t want them in my garden, it wouldn’t be acceptable for me to injure my neighbours if it was in my garden.

    I like cars, i don’t want them in my garden. It wouldn’t be acceptable for me to cut the hand brake cable of any i might find in my garden.

    IHTH

    5plusn8
    Member

    Whilst you are busy jumping to conclusions my actual procedure would be, given that everything has been cordial so far and if I find out it is legal:
    1) Heloo neighbour, I desperately want to trim 100% of the branches in my garden as is my right, but I am concerned that if I do then it will make the tree unstable therefore the tree surgeon is also happy to trim your bits.
    2) a) Neighbour agrees, all is fine. b) neighbour disagrees, I notify them that I am going to do it anyway to my side, with reasonable notice (if thats legal) and they have a responsibility to make their bit safe. I’d even be happy to cover all the costs.

    What I want to know is can I force the issue or am I stumped..

    5plusn8
    Member

    You see the point is – despite all the advice here and on other forums, that I am legally allowed to trim up to my boundary, I was concerned, as advised by the tree surgeon that following this course of action might cause problems and didn’t really want to go off on a unilateral mission to **** everyone up, but wanted to know the legalities so I could use it to press my case.

    thecaptain
    Member

    Yes you can cut off everything on your side if you want, even if this harms the tree (TPO aside etc). If the neighbour was bothered about it he should have kept it in trim from the outset.

    myti
    Member

    Who moved in first the tree or you? If planted by your neighbour after you moved in then I would be a bit more sympathetic to wanting it reduced more. Ultimately the professional has pruned it to the safe amount and it’s a bit late to change your mind now.

    Is it shading the whole garden or just part? Make a feature of the shaded area with shade loving plants/bark and clear up the leaves in autumn… not really the end of the world?

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
    Subscriber

    Based on on ongoing issue and lots of (sometimes costly) advice with a huge boundary tree and the resulting to and fro – mine has a TPO to complicate things…

    Neighbour can cut back to his boundary without owners explicit consent (except he can’t because of tpo).

    Any damage to the tree caused as a result of work the owner didn’t consent to [disease, failure etc] who ever did the work is liable for (except I am, because of tpo. Though it’s likely we’d both end up on the recieving end of any legal action).

    Actual “legal” value of the tree is probably minimal and any attempts to persue would probably be a civil (or very uncivil) and possibly costly matter as old bill probably won’t be interested (except mine’s got a TPO, so it’s likely to end up being very expensive).

    If he decides to replace the tree that’s possibly very expensive, expect a bill from his insurance dropping through your door.

    Any damage caused to anything else the owner is liable for sorting out, in practice this means setting the insurance company on who ever cut the tree back.

    In short, it is his tree, any failure of that tree is his problem. If he decides you’re liable for that failure it could very quickly be your problem.

    If he can show you or your agent caused it (especially if you knew your action might do so) it’s potentially criminal damage, either through negligence or deliberate action. Chances are he’ll get no where on a criminal front.

    The neighbor has a duty to maintain the tree and ensure its not doing any damage, light blockage and leaf drop are not “problems” with a tree and you’ll get nowhere using them as justification for anything.

    If you’d just chopped it back yourself on day one (with his consent) you might* have got away with a “sorry mate”.
    At this point if you do the work (i doubt you’ll get an arborist to do it given the first ones assessment as they would definitely be liable) your chances of shrugging it off are likely zero if it does cause a problem.

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
    Subscriber

    (Of course the actual legality is likely to be something two solicitors can disagree about very expensively should they so wish. Finding out if you’re liable or not is likely to be costly if there is any ambiguity at all and your neighbour thinks you are.

    In practice if your neighbour says no, doing it any how breaches the one rule that matters.)

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