Hedging your bets

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty looks at a dispute between neighbours about the height of a garden hedge
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High hedge dispute cartoon
© Malcolm Willett (www.willett-ink.co.uk)
Question: We live in a detached house in Richmond and have a large back garden with high hedges on both sides and the back. This makes our garden private and secluded but our neighbours on one side constantly complain. They have now said that if we do not reduce its height they will make a formal complaint, as a result of which we will get an Asbo. Surely this cannot be right?

Answer: The hedges, I assume, are the same height on both sides of your garden and so it is acceptable to at least one of your neighbours.

Neighbour disputes are very unpleasant and often are blown out of all proportion and so compromise is best. But if this proves impossible, your neighbour does have the right under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 to complain to the local authority on the grounds that your high hedge is adversely affecting the “reasonable enjoyment” of their own property.

If the local authority considers your neighbour’s complaint to be justified, it could issue a remedial notice requiring you to cut back your hedge. However, you cannot be required to adjust the height to less than two metres.

If you fail to comply, you could be fined up to £1,000. You can also be made to cut the hedge, and if you disobey this you could be fined more.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.

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