Neighbour’s tree blocks light in my garden – what can I do?
Q: My neighbour's tree is blocking light from coming into my garden and the branches are overhanging. She planted the trees 10 years ago and I'm not sure how to approach her. Who is responsible for maintaining the trees and do I have any rights? Can I chop down the overhanging branches?
It’s good to talk. So the starting point to handling this will be talking to your neighbour. Keep things civil and give them time to reflect on what you propose doing.
In advance of that conversation you might want to be aware of some facts.
First of all, check whether there is a tree preservation order protecting the tree and/or whether it stands in a conservation area. You can do this by phoning your local council and asking them to check on the local map of your area. You can discuss with them the implications of any planning restrictions on the tree.
If there isn’t an order or restrictions on the tree you do have a right under common law to cut back overhanging trees that are encroaching upon your property provided that you do not go over the boundary between your neighbour’s land and your own. We would recommend getting agreement from your neighbour for this work to avoid any ill feeling or claims of damage.
You will need to be very careful that you do not cause damage to the tree when cutting it back as this could leave you open to liability claims from your neighbour. Do not go beyond your boundary.
As the tree belongs to the land on which they originally grew you will need to ask your neighbour if they want any of the trimmings back and return any branches to them or else agree beforehand to dispose of them yourself.
You suggest the overhanging tree is causing problems with access to light. If it is blocking light to a window or glass house on your property then you might be able to acquire a right to light under Planning law. The Rights of Light Act 1959 states that if a property has received daylight for the last 20 years (the minimum prescribed period, which may rule out your tree), you may be entitled to continue to receive that light. Again speak to your local planning department about this.
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