Question: About five years ago, a developer built a new crescent of seven houses in front of the terrace of Edwardian homes where I live.
The developer then went bust, though at the Land Registry he personally appears as the owner of the access paths to the new homes.
There is a hedge there that is now wildly overgrown and overrun by rats, and a broken-down fence on his land in front of the houses.
Whose responsibility is it to maintain this hedge? Is it the residents of the new crescent or does it revert to the council?
Answer: If the hedge is planted on land registered to the developer, then it is likely to belong to him. The residents of the new crescent may have accepted some obligation to maintain the hedge, but that obligation is likely to be in a private contract with the original developer, or with the developer personally. You cannot assume that you can enforce that obligation.
If the footpath is a private right of way for the residents of your terrace and the hedge makes the path difficult to use, you can take action to prevent the ongoing obstruction.
Your options are to bring court proceedings against the developer or trim back the hedge yourself. You may be able to recover your costs of doing so from the developer.
However, if it is a public footpath, then contact your local council, as it can take enforcement action over unauthorised obstructions of a public highway, such as overgrown hedges.
I am unsure how the hedge contributes to the rodent or pest issue, but the environmental health department of your local council should be able to assist — although they may charge for their service.
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