Tree and tree roots - summary of legal implications

15/11/2018

Trees can make a garden, they can add shade, give privacy and even bear fruit! Tree roots and branches can, however, encroach on neighbouring properties and cause damage to property structures, if not well monitored and maintained. The obvious example being the damage that roots can potentially cause to property foundations and underground structures such as drains.

This article briefly looks at landowners’ responsibilities for trees and tree roots.

The owner of the land the tree is growing on should be wary of allowing trees to overhang neighbouring property as they may cause a danger, for example if the tree(s) overhangs a pathway or highway. It may be possible to sue the owners of trees for damages caused by any damage from the roots or branches.

If your neighbours’ tree is encroaching onto your property, for example if its branches are overhanging your boundary and causing a nuisance, then you are permitted to remove the part of the tree that is overhanging onto your property.

However, there are a few caveats and limitations to this right:
• you should check the tree is not protected (for example by a Tree Preservation Order or “TPO”)
• you must return any parts of the tree you cut to the owner of the land on which the tree is situated
• you must not cut the tree so much that you cause it to die or become unstable. 

Before carrying out any works to trees you should check with the local authority as to whether permission is required and whether there are any nesting birds in the tree. If a particular tree is protected then it is a criminal offence to prune or fell them without consent from the relevant authority. We would also advise that before carrying out any works to a tree on any neighbouring land that you speak to the land owner before removing any branches.

You should also seek the advice of a tree surgeon or specialist before carrying out any works to trees as they will be able to advise on the most suitable course of action depending on your particular issue. Possible remedies may include: placing a tree barrier in between the structure and the roots; pruning the tree; and in some cases removing the tree altogether.

This is a brief overview, for further information and specific advice to your situation you should speak to a legal adviser.

Although every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate and correct, the information provided does not constitute any form of advice, recommendation or opinion. DPM Legal Services Limited accepts no liability for any loss or damage, howsoever caused, as a result of any reliance on any information provided.