Boundary/tree issues

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    Boundary/tree issues

    A property I look after has a large palm tree in the garden. It overhangs the neighbouring property and the neighbour is annoyed. He's written to the tenant demanding that he (or the owner) gets the tree cut back or he'll do it himself and forward the invoice. He has made no mention that the tree poses any threat to his property, he just doesn't like it.

    Now, I'm aware that you can legally trim back overhanging trees up to the point of the boundary and that, strictly speaking, those cuttings remain the property of the tree owner (so you should cut them and chuck them back over, presumably).

    But can he force the landlord (my client) into action? Or pursue him for the money if he follows through on his intended course of action?

    My landlord is indifferent and doesn't particularly want to get anything done about it. Since receiving the letter (via us, via the tenant) he has now taken the view that he no longer likes this neighbour and that he's certainly not going to be told what to do (petty, perhaps, but people are people).

    Thanks in advance.

    So long as the tree is not so severely injured that it dies, the neighbour has the right to abate the nuisance by cutting the tree back to the boundary. In the absence of any damage to the neighbour's property, she cannot claim the cost or any other damages - at least I have never heard of a case where damages have been awarded. There is no right to require the owner of a tree to keep it within his boundaries. The law believes that trees should be allowed to do what trees do so long as they are not a danger or are not causing damage.

    Whilst there is a legal requirement to offer the owner of the tree any arisings, a common sense approach is that the owner can have no real complaint if they are of no value and the neighbour disposes of them. Even so, it does no harm to ask to avoid dispute. Despite assurances to the contrary on many forums, there is no right to throw or leave the arisings on the tree-owner's land. Subject to the de minimis rule, to do so amounts to an actionable trespass.

    You will find more than you want to know about the law and trees here:


      Very helpful, thank you.


        This often arises with conifers affecting next door's garden.
        IMO there can be no trespass if overhanging branches are returned to the tree's owner by throwing them back over the boundary line.
        Tell the neighbour this may affect the aesthetic appearance of HIS tree and he is liable for disposal of any branches, so provided, or the cost of a tree surgeon.doing the work.


          Originally posted by mariner View Post
          IMO there can be no trespass if overhanging branches are returned to the tree's owner by throwing them back over the boundary line.
          I am unable to quote a case, but I do not think there can be any doubt that throwing arisings onto the tree-owner's land without consent is a trespass. The following three sites agree that throwing objects onto land is a trespass:

          There is a long discussion on what to do with arisings here:

          My posts are under the name "Conveyancer".


            I suggest such an action would also be fly tipping.


              How can returning the owner's property back to his land by throwing it over the fence, be considered as trespass or fly tipping?
              Not returning the prunings would be 'theft'.


                Originally posted by mariner View Post
                How can returning the owner's property back to his land by throwing it over the fence, be considered as trespass or fly tipping?
                Not returning the prunings would be 'theft'.
                Trespass is not just going onto land it is also any interference with land without the owner's consent. If a ball comes over from a neighbour's property it is reasonable to assume that the neighbour wants it back and therefore to throw it over the fence. It is not reasonable to assume that a neighbour wants clippings or branches thrown into his garden or even left nicely bagged or neatly piled up on his drive.

                It is not theft if you ask the neighbour if he wants the arisings. If you get no answer there comes a point where I think it is safe to dispose of them. If you cut off a branch laden with fruit it is a good idea to bag up the fruit and take it round. If the neighbour is not in then leaving it by the front door is not going to be a problem because it is not unreasonable to assume the neighbour wants the fruit.


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