Author Topic: The law relating to trees overhanging property ownership boundaries  (Read 10016 times)

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The Prophet

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The law regarding overhanging tree branches is different from the law relating to tree roots. Both are deemed trespass, but any damage caused by neighbouring tree roots is normally an actionable nuisance. With trespass you require the probability that damage will occur; with nuisance a claim will only succeed if damage has already occurred.

Overhanging branches
You are at liberty to cut back any branches from a neighbour’s tree that overhang your property to the point at which they cross the boundary line or fence. In law, the trimmings belong to the tree owner, keeping them may be deemed theft. It is always best to talk to your neighbour before reaching for the secateurs. You should also ensure that the tree in question is not protected by a Tree Preservation Order. (TPO) or is in a planning conservation area.

Trespassing tree roots
Roots are more of a problem and the spread or potential spread will depend on the species and size of tree. In general tree roots will spread one and a half times the height of the tree or area of the tree canopy, whichever is the greater.

If your neighbour's tree roots are trespassing your property you can cut them back to the boundary even if this is likely to kill the tree but you cannot poison a tree.  If tree roots affect your property you would be well advised to contact your insurers at an early stage.