Outside Problems

Can I Prune My Neighbour’s Tree, Is Tree Cutting Permitted?

Sometimes a neighbour’s tree, hedge, or bush can creep over onto your property over time. This can cause problems as pathways may become restricted, however there are rules around tree cutting.

As always it is best to have an informal chat with your neighbour about the issue. If you are just cutting back to the property line then they are unlikely to have any problem with your actions but will appreciate that you talked to them first and will also help build up a relationship which may be helpful in the future.

What Issues Can Overhanging Branches Cause?

Overhanging branches can lead a number of issues, such

  • trespass (into the neighbouring lands airspace)
  • obstruction of a neighbour’s right to light
  • potential health and safety issues if the overhang is over footpaths or roads

Ultimately the easiest option is for the owner of the offending tree to simply trim it back. It is therefore advisable to informally approach them over the issue.

If the issue isn’t resolved or you think the issue is more complex then professional advice should be sought.

Am I Allowed to Cut The Branches?

You are able to cut the tree’s branches back to the property line (but not any further) without permission. When you do cut the tree, you should offer the prunings back to the owner. If the owner refuses the pruning you are responsible for their disposal. You aren’t entitled to fallen fruit from trees. If in doubt to the extent of the pruning, or if you think the pruning may harm the tree – then you should seek professional advice.

Professional Help

If as a result of the pruning damage is caused to the tree, or it became susceptible to wind or disease, then you would be considered negligent for the harm caused to the tree. This also applies to if you removed roots growing into your property. As there is liability it is advisable to employ a competent tree surgeon or arboriculturist who is familiar with such work. You would need to check they have suitable insurance in place for the work in case something does go awry.

Tree Preservation Orders

There are different rules in place for trees covered by a Tree Preservation Order, or those in a Conservation Area. For these you will need the prior consent from your local authority.

Next Steps

If the tree is covered by a Tree Preservation order the RHS has a guide here, and a general guide on trees here to help you avoid problems around tree cutting.

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