What Are The Rules Around Cutting A Neighbour’s Trees?
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Neighbourly disputes can, unfortunately, be quite common. We can’t choose the people who surround our home, but their behaviour can sometimes have an impact on us. Noise issues, boundary disputes and inappropriate car parking are just some of the problems that can arise with our neighbours.
But what are the rules around overgrown plants that begin to encroach on your property from your neighbour’s garden? When your own outdoor space is perfectly pruned, it can be irritating when straggly branches begin to reach over the fence. Can you request that your neighbour trim their plants and trees, for instance, so they are no longer on your property? Or can you even cut such overgrowth yourself? Read on to find out.
Can a neighbour cut my tree without permission?
Firstly, what are your rights if a neighbour tries to cut a tree that’s on your property?
When a tree or other plant that is on your boundary has overgrown so that it is encroaching on your neighbour’s property, they are entitled to trim back the part that is on their side to the boundary line without asking for your permission. Overhanging branches or roots can be a nuisance for your neighbours, but they do not have to ask for permission to cut them, as long as they can do so from their side of the boundary.
What a neighbour cannot do is cut down any part of the tree that is on your boundary, come onto your property to trim it or cut down the tree itself. Sometimes, a tree is planted directly on a boundary. In this case, it is considered to be the property of both homes, however a neighbour can still only cut it from their side and cannot tear it down without your permission.
Can you cut a neighbour’s overhanging tree?
The same rules apply as above when it comes to cutting or trimming a neighbour’s tree that is overhanging on your property. You don’t have to ask permission, however there are a few things you may wish to keep in mind.
First, you should return any parts of the tree or plant that you have removed from your side of the boundary, including any branches, roots or fruits. It is their property and therefore their responsibility to dispose of it. If they don’t wish to have it back, this is fine and it becomes your responsibility. Second, if you are removing any roots, you must do so in a way that will not affect the tree or damage it in any way. If a tree is left unstable and damages your home, your insurance provider may not pay out, so it’s important that you understand what you’re doing when trimming roots.
Can I ask my neighbour to cut their trees?
Sometimes, it’s not enough to just cut back a tree or plant from your side of the boundary, and further work may be needed. So what are the rules around asking a neighbour to cut their trees back or even down completely?
Trees of significant height along the boundary can reduce the amount of light coming into your home. It is always best to approach your neighbour to see if you can both come to an arrangement. As there is no obligation on your neighbour to reduce the height of their trees, you may offer to pay for the costs involved in the trimming works. Before cutting down or severely altering a tree, you should ensure that it isn’t protected with a preservation order. When this is the case, only the local council can make alterations.
If your neighbour does not agree to cutting back or topping the trees, you may consider speaking to your solicitor to seek a Works Order under Section 45, Land Conveyancing, Law Reform Act 2009, to reduce the height of the trees.
This could be a very expensive option to pursue and you may want to think how this could impact the relationship between you and your neighbour.
Whatever route you decide, never enter your neighbour's property to cut back their trees or remove them completely without their permission. To do so you may find yourself in front of a judge in the Circuit Court with a very high penalty to pay.
Ultimately, the best way to solve issues with overgrown plants is to speak to your neighbour. You may be surprised at how the conversation goes and they may be more than willing to help you out.