Our neighbour's tree drives us nuts

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty looks at what legal action can be taken within a conservation area when a neighbouring tree becomes a nuisance to your property
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Nuisance tree cartoon
© Malcolm Willett (www.willett-ink.co.uk)
Question: I live in a conservation area. My neighbour’s almond tree has grown over into my (admittedly very small) back garden. The tree is diseased, reduces the light to my garden and is so low that visitors are in danger of hitting their heads on it. Also it is damaging the wall.

I have asked my neighbour very nicely to prune it but nothing has happend and my local council has told me that it can’t intervene. Help! Is there anything I can do?

Answer: The number one rule is that you are entitled to cut back a tree which is encroaching into your airspace - provided you offer the wood back to your neighbour.

However, in a conservation area, which is where you live, you have to give six weeks’ notice to the local planning authority before carrying out any tree works. It can then consider if the tree should be protected.

If the tree is below a certain size, you do not need to give notice and may not need to if it is dying, dead or dangerous, or is causing a legal nuisance. Additionally, you have possible claims against the neighbour for the damage to the wall, for your visitors’ injuries and the serious reduction in your light.

You will need to write to the council and to your neighbour, and I would recommend that you obtain a report from a tree surgeon and seek help from a specialist solicitor.

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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