Common tree issues

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Below are some examples of common tree issues that can occur between neighbours. Click on each link to find out how these can be resolved. 

Most of these situations can be sorted out with some neighbourly discussion and common sense. If a solution can’t be achieved between you, then your next step is to see your lawyer to ascertain your rights.

Twice in recent times you have needed to employ a plumber to clear them. The plumber warns you to expect ongoing blocking of the drains and therefore further expense unless the cause of the problem is removed. Your neighbour is not interested and points out that the tree was growing on his property long before you purchased your property.

Do you have a comeback ? Absolutely! The law does not accept that a tree planted 30 years ago cannot be a nuisance today. If all facts were presen​ted to the court your neighbour would probably be ordered to remove the tree.

Your neighbour tells you there is nothing she can do and she is not prepared to remove the tree. You decide to take matters into your own hands by poisoning the roots on your side of the fence resulting in the whole tree dying.

Can your neighbour take you to court for this? Yes, she can. You are allowed to remove any part of a neighbour’s tree that is on your property but your right of action stops at the boundary. Poisoning the roots would have an effect beyond your side of the boundary.

Can your neighbour demand compensation? No, you were within your rights to cut off the branch on your side of the boundary.

Are allowed to prune branches which are growing over your property back to the fence. Or you can ask your neighbour to cut back the trees or remove them altogether. If your neighbour refuses, you may be able to obtain a court order to solve the problem.

As mentioned before, you may cut off the branches on your side, but if they are long and thick, it could be quite a big job.

Is your neighbour obliged to cut them back himself or pay for it to be done? No, provided they are causing no nuisance, the branches are your responsibility if they are growing on your side of the fence.

You are concerned the tree or part of it may fall and damage your house. Your neighbour doesn’t accept the tree is doing any harm or that it is likely to fall, and tells you to mind your own business. 

Your lawyer could apply for a court order to have the tree removed. If the court agrees it could cause damage, then your neighbour will have no option but to remove it.

Yes, a neighbour may not take your property and eve​n if the branches are hanging on his property, the fruit belongs to you. The neighbour could, however, exercise his right to cut off the branches which are intruding onto his property.

Page reviewed: 11 Apr 2017 9:29am