Trees - FAQs
Tree overhangs my property, what are my rights?
- You may prune unprotected trees and hedges overhanging your land and the roots growing beneath your land up to the boundary
- You do not need the owner’s permission, but you must not trespass onto their land to do this
- In addition you must offer to return the cut branch wood and any fruit which is attached or has fallen onto your land
- You do have a duty of care for the tree and may be liable for damages if any work you do , or ask others to do for you, causes the tree to die or become dangerous
- If the tree is protected, either by a Tree Preservation Order, Woodland Preservation Order or by the fact that it grows in a conservation area, you will need to make formal application to Dartford Borough Council before carrying out the work
A tree is shading my garden, what are the owner’s responsibility?
- For living entities such as trees there is no prescriptive right to light, so there is no requirement for a tree owner to manage their trees unless you bring this forward and win a civil action in the courts.
- You should consult a solicitor to see if you have grounds to proceed with this
- If successful an injunction may be served by the court requiring the offending trees to be reduced in height or restricting their further growth
Leaves are dropping onto my pathways and gutters. What are the owner’s responsibilities?
None. Leaf fall is regarded as a natural event for which the owner cannot be held responsible. You are responsible for clearing your own pathways, drains and gutters
A tree is blocking my view. What are my rights?
None. There is no right to a view
A large tree was planted close to my boundary several years ago. What are my rights?
There is no law preventing any person planting or growing a tree anywhere on their property. Neither is there any restriction upon the size to which they may grow it
However any person who plants a poisonous tree so close to a boundary that its branches grow over that boundary may be held liable for damages if they are eaten by a neighbour’s livestock
If the neighbour’s livestock reach over to the tree owner’s side of the boundary to eat the leaves the tree owner will not be liable unless they have a legal responsibility to maintain the boundary
I think a tree is dangerous. What can I do?
The definition of ‘dangerous’ is ambiguous. A tree is not dangerous because it is tall, old or has a wide spreading crown. Before taking any action you should contact a specialist tree consultant or contractor. Once you are sure of your facts and have these in writing, you should notify the tree owner of your concerns and ask that they address the problem. If they do not and some damage results from this negligence, then you may take action against the tree owner through the courts. It may be possible to obtain an injunction requiring the tree owner to take action to remedy the problem
What constitutes a dangerous or hazardous tree?
A dangerous tree is one in such poor condition that whole or part of it may collapse at any time. A dangerous tree may or may not be hazardous depending upon where it grows. For example, a tree in a privately owned field is less potentially hazardous than one in a public park
How does a dangerous tree differ from a defective tree?
Most trees have defects but the vast majority are not dangerous. Defects may include minor dead wood where squirrels have stripped bark or minor decay pockets where bark has been damaged and the tree has suffered bacterial or fungal infection. It is the type and extent of the defect that is important in determining whether or not a tree is dangerous
Is a tall tree inherently dangerous?
Tall trees are not necessarily dangerous. A tree will grow (within its species limits) as large as the space, light, water, nutrition and oxygen available to it permits. Trees cannot grow too tall – except in human perception
Are leaning trees dangerous?
Leaning trees are not necessarily dangerous. One of the reasons a tree grows with a lean is because it is in close competition with other plant or buildings and it has been forced to grow at an angle to chase the light. In response, the tree lays down denser wood on one side of its trunk. There may be a problem if a previously vertical tree suddenly develops a lean, perhaps as a result of storm damage