THE SUN is finally shining and for many Brits that means spending more time in the garden.
But one homeowner has been left fuming after their neighbour let a tree grow out of control – and now it’s so high that it’s blocking out his light.
A reader emailed in to This is Money explaining that their garden had plunged into darkness in the shadow of next door’s tree.
“We get almost no sunlight in our back garden,” the homeowner had said.
“He is refusing to do anything because he says it acts as a privacy screen from other properties.”
The reader explained they had already made a number of polite requests for the neighbour to either prune or cut down the tree, but to no avail.
They also explained how some of the branches overhang into their garden, and worried this could pose a danger to the property.
The reader said their children regularly play out in the garden too, adding that falling branches could also be dangerous.
So what are your rights when it comes to your neighbour’s trees and shrubbery?
While it may be tempting to just get the shears out, you should find out what you rights are first.
Chun Wong, head of the dispute resolution team at Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors previously told UK Times: “There is no right to a ‘view’”.
That means you’re facing a bit of a grey area when it comes to whether you can make your neighbour remove the tree or its offending branches because it’s ruining your vista.
However, there is such a thing as having a right to light.
The HomeOwners Alliance said that if the tree is blocking light to a window on your property, then you might be able to acquire a Right to Light under Planning law.
It said: “The Rights of Light Act 1959 states that if a property has received daylight for the last 20 years (the minimum prescribed period), you may be entitled to continue to receive that light.”
There are a few steps you can take to try and resolve the issue before it gets to that stage though. We take a look.
What can I do?
Unless you are in a conservation area or the tree is protected under a Tree Preservation Order, you have the right to cut back any overhanging branches that come onto your property.
But you can only really trim up to what’s yours.
If you go beyond your property boundary you could find yourself in trouble.
Check boundaries by taking a look at the deeds to the property.
If you haven’t already got these, you can purchase them from the Land Registry on the government’s website – they cost about £3.
If you went ahead and started cutting back without checking if the space is actually yours first, you might be taken to court for damage in the worst case scenario.
Where you neighbour owns the tree, the best thing to do is to have a rational discussion about trimming it back.
You might find your neighbour is just as annoyed with its presence and might be glad to take it down with a bit of help.
Can a tree be too tall?
There is actually no specific limit to the height that a tree is allowed to grow.
If a group of trees starts to form a vegetative screen blocking neighbours’ views and more, then it could be a “High Hedge” issue which the council and Planning Enforcement could get involved with.
The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 defines how high a hedge can grow under the law.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t grow anything above the height, but it does mean you’re within your rights to complain about something that exceeds it.
If the hedge is more than two metres tall then you can take action.
The Royal Horticultural Society explains that if the hedge affects the “reasonable” enjoyment of your house or garden, you should first negotiate with your neighbours though.
If that fails, you can ask your council for a complaint form, so long as the hedge exceeds the height.
But keep in mind that there will be a fee involved which can be up to £400.
Another resident faced a similar issue when their neighbour’s hedge starting taking over their garden, so it’s not uncommon for it to occur.
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