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Can I trim the branches of neighbours's tree that hang over my yard?

You have the legal right to trim tree branches up to the property line. But you may not go onto the neighbour’s property or destroy the tree itself. A person who intentionally injures someone else's tree is liable to the owner for monetary loss.


Most of a big oak tree hangs over my yard, but the trunk is on the neighbour's property. Who owns the tree?

Your neighbour. It is accepted law that a tree whose trunk stands wholly on the land of one person belongs to that person. If the trunk stands partly on the land of two or more people, it is called a boundary tree, and in most cases it belongs to all the property owners. All the owners are responsible for caring for the tree, and one co-owner may not remove a healthy tree without the other owners' permission.


My neighbours's tree looks like it's going to fall on my house any day now. What should I do?

You can trim back branches to your property line, but that may not solve the problem if you're worried about the whole tree coming down. City governments often step in to take care of, or make the owner take care of, dangerous trees. Some cities have ordinances that prohibit maintaining any dangerous condition -- including a hazardous tree -- on private property. To enforce such an ordinance, the city can demand that the owner remove the tree or pay a fine. Some cities will even remove such a tree for the owner. You might also get help from a utility company, if the tree threatens its equipment. For example, a phone company will trim a tree that hangs menacingly over its lines. If you don't get help from these sources, and the neighbour refuses to take action, you can sue. The legal theory is that the dangerous tree is a "nuisance" because it is unreasonable for the owner to keep it and it interferes with your use and enjoyment of your property. You can ask the court to order the owner to prune or remove the tree. You'll probably have to sue in regular court (not small claims court) and have proof that the tree really does pose a danger to you.


Can I force my neighbour to cut down their trees that block my view?

Contrary to popular belief, most homeowners do not have a right to their view. Generally, homeowners have no right to a view (or light or air), unless it has been granted in writing by a local ordinance or subdivision rule. The exception to this general rule is that someone may not deliberately and maliciously block another's view with a structure that has no reasonable use to the owner.


My neighbour dug up his yard, and in the process killed a tree that's just on my side of the property line. Am I entitled to compensation for the tree?

Yes. The basic rule is that someone who cuts down, removes, or hurts a tree without permission owes the tree's owner money to compensate for the harm done. You can sue to enforce that right -- but you probably won't have to, once you tell your neighbour what the law is.

British Properties – Homeowner FAQs






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