Thursday, October 1

Neighbour Disputes Regarding Trees and Hedges in Kingston

Trees on Private Property in Kingston

Kingston Council and indeed many local tree surgeons receive phone calls from people unhappy that a neighbouring tree is causing a nuisance or obstruction to their property and they are not sure what they are entitled to do.

Tree surgeons and Kingston Council are obviously not able to get involved in these types of private matters and it is recommended that you try and deal with any issues you may have in a reasonable and friendly manner with your neighbour before they get out of hand and become a full-blown dispute.

There may be many reasons why a neighbouring trees overhanging branches are causing you problems and it is not unreasonable for you to wish to remove them. On the other had your neighbour may love their tree and be apprehensive and upset that any works may disfigure the tree, cause it to become diseased or even lead to the death of the tree.

It, therefore, makes sense to try and have a friendly chat with your neighbour to assure them that any works will be carried out to a high standard, in a sympathetic manner and in a way that will cause the least distress to the tree as possible.

Under common law and provided the tree is not subject to a Tree Preservation Order and does not fall within Kingston’s conservation area, then you are permitted to cut back branches that overhang your properties boundary, back to the border and absolutely no further. Under common law, you are also obliged to offer the cuttings back to the owner and by that I don’t mean you can just sling them over the garden wall or fence. Should the tree owner decline to accept the cuttings, which they are quite entitled to do, then it will then be your responsibility to dispose of the cuttings in a responsible way? Of course, if you have engaged a qualified tree surgeon to carry out the works for you, then they will dispose of the cuttings.

It should also be noted that the cutting back of a tree is a skilful job, requiring a good knowledge of trees, along with suitable and sharp equipment. If you cut individual trees at the wrong time or year, use tools that are not sharp enough or have a possible infection on the tools you intend to use, then you may cause the tree to become unstable, develop a disease or die. This all may cause harm or damage to your neighbour, their visitors or their property, not to mention the damage to the said tree. The end result may be your neighbour taking you to court to sue for damages.

For all of the above reasons it is highly recommended that you engage the services of a local, fully qualified and insured, registered tree surgeon. This should hopefully help allay any fears your neighbour may have as regards to the quality of work and the due care and consideration that will be given to the tree, as well as making life a lot safer and easier for you. A list of local registered tree surgeons can be obtained from the Arboricultural Association.

One other thing to bear in mind is that sometimes a tree’s trunk can spread over two properties and it may not always be clear who actually owns the tree. This can easily be resolved by contacting the Land Registry.

Hedges on Private Property in Kingston

There are some occasions when neighbours fall out over the height of a hedge. Kingston Council has the power to step in and act on your behalf but only as a last resort. You will need to have taken every reasonable step possible to try and come to an agreement with your neighbour and you will also be required to provide proof that you have sought to come to a private resolution.

After having tried to resolve reasonably the dispute yourself without success and provided that you are able to answer ‘yes’ to all of the following questions, then Kingston Council will give consideration to your complaint:

1. Is the hedge in question growing on land that is owned by your neighbour?

2. Is the hedge in question made up of a line of two or more shrubs or trees?

3. Is the hedge in question mostly a semi-evergreen or an evergreen?

4. Is the hedge in question over two metres high?

5. Does the hedge in question block out light or views, despite the possible presence of gaps in the foliage?

This service comes with a non-refundable price tag of ┬ú400 as at today’s date (24th December 2015) and of course may be subject to change.

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