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Trees and hedges issues
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Neighbour disputes

Trees and hedges are the cause of many neighbour disputes, especially if they encroach on a neighbour’s garden or house.

Yet, many house owners are unclear about their rights when faced with a neighbour’s tree or shrub shading their garden or overhanging the property boundary.

A tree or hedge belongs to the owner of the land on which it grows even if its branches or roots go over or under adjoining land. This includes the branches, leaves and fruit of any tree or shrub.

The law, however, does not require the owner to come and sweep up the leaves or pick up the fruit.

Your rights

The law does not allow you to trespass onto your neighbour’s land or to lean over it to cut a hedge or tree, without first asking their permission.

You do, however, have a right to the 'reasonable enjoyment' of your property. Whether a tree or high hedge has interfered with this right will depend on the specific circumstances.

Right to light

A neighbour’s tree or shrub that encroaches on your side of the property boundary or grows so high it casts a constant shadow across your garden can be extremely frustrating. Yet knowing your rights in this situation can be difficult. 

For example, are you entitled to cut overhanging branches from your neighbour’s trees if they’re causing a problem, or do you need their permission first? Do you have a legal right to light in your garden?  

Which? Legal can help

Our team of specialist advisers are on hand to provide you with advice tailored to the specific circumstances of your case and can guide you on how best to approach a dispute you may have with a neighbour.

We can advise you of the criteria required for making a complaint to your local council along with the legislation in place that will help you to resolve the problem.

The Which? Legal specialist advisers will give you individual, jargon-free legal advice to help with all types of neighbour disputes.

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Meet your experts
James Attew Prior to joining Which? Legal in September 2018, James advised in relation to consumer, commercial, and property disputes at various firms in the South of England See profile
Peter Litchman Peter qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and joined Which? Legal as a legal adviser in January 2007. He advises on all aspects of consumer law, tenancy issues, and neighbour disputes. See profile
Adrian Schwab Adrian joined Which? Legal in June 2017 as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. Adrian received his Bachelor in Law degree from the Holborn Law School in 2006. See profile