Everybody needs good neighbours. But what can be done if someone refuses to be neighbourly?

Can you cut down branches that overhang into your garden? Whose responsibility is it to repair or replace an adjoining broken fence?

17th April 2019

With spring upon us, people across the UK are preparing to head out into their gardens to do some annual pruning.

For the most part, basic garden maintenance is rather straightforward; trim the hedges and shrubs, mow the lawn, and get the chairs out of the shed.

But what happens when a neighbour’s plant is growing across onto your property? And what can be done if a neighbour’s tree is blocking the light into your garden?

Simon Roberts, a solicitor from DAS Law, is here to answer those all important questions…

Can you cut down branches that overhang into your garden?

The simple answer is yes. However there are a few points to consider before you start cutting. It is always best to speak with a neighbour and ask them to take action or advise them that you plan on cutting the branches that are overhanging into your garden before you start any removal.

If you are cutting the branches back then simply cut them to the boundary line ensuring that it will not kill the tree/foliage. It is advisable to inform a neighbour that you either plan to place the branches carefully back on their land or to dispose of them.

It is always worth considering whether there is a Tree Preservation Order on particular trees, as this can prohibit some activities that can be carried out. A local planning department should be able to help with this.

Whose responsibility is it to repair or replace an adjoining broken fence?

Initially it is best to look at property deeds to assess whether it is clear who is obliged to fix a broken fence. In most cases deeds can be found through the Land Registry.

If deeds are unclear then it may be necessary to consider whether a precedent has been set where one party has normally fixed the fence. If so, arguably you could ask that they take steps to fix it again. It is also possible for neighbours to agree between themselves who will fix a fence and how this would be done.

What if they refuse to maintain the fence?

If it’s a neighbour’s obligation to fix a fence and they aren’t willing to do this it may be necessary to put your concerns in writing to them asking them to take action or to try and reach an agreement with them.

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.

Simon Roberts

Senior Associate, Solicitor

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