To ask the man next door to cut down his trees

(217 Posts)
FeynmanDiagram Wed 08-May-13 18:27:27

I'm having some problems with my neighbour and created an account to hopefully get an impartial view from you. I'd be grateful for your feedback.

Approximately five years ago a new neighbour moved next-door to me and inherited a garden that was a bit of a mess. We'd had problems with the previous neighbours garden in that the trees at the foot of the garden overhung quite badly into ours. In the end the we managed to get them to cut them back, but the problems haven't stopped.

Now the same trees are so high that they are blocking the sunlight from getting into my garden in the morning. I'd like to be able to enjoy breakfast in the summer sun from the comfort of my own garden, but can't because of the height and the fact that they are covered in ivy.

Rather than going through the courts, I approached my neighbour and explained the situation and he said he'd go away and look into it. They weekend he came back and said that he'd gotten quotes, but said that he wanted me to pay half!

I told him how in no uncertain terms how ridiculous it would be for me to have to pay for his trees to be fixed when its him that's causing the problem. Especially since I'm on a single income and they are both young professionals with no children.

What are your thoughts? AIBU?

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Thu 16-May-13 23:54:39

Deb75
Those trees are really overbearing and UGLY. I am NOT professionally qualified but I would think your mother would have a good chance of getting something done about them under the a high Hedge Legislation.

Firstly, are you sure the hedge is planted wholly on your mothers nieghbours land?

Are you in England?

Your mother needs to take 'resonable steps' to sort this out herself. She could send a polite letter to the neighbour. (She should refer to any previous requests for the neighbour to reduce the height of the trees). She should send it recorded delivery and She should keep a copy.
She should mention how it is affecting her 'reasonable enjoyment' of her home AND garden. Including loss of light etc etc.

The citizens Advice bureau may be able to help with this stage of the process.

It's likely that the owner of the house knows that he has to do something about the trees and is just waiting for his hand to be forced. Hopefully, he will cut the trees to a reasonable size at this stage.

If the neighbour doesn't do anything then your mother can approach her council. If she goes in person, armed with lots of photos she may be able to get some indication as to whether an application under the High Hedge Legislation is likely to be effective. (She has to hope to speak to a sympathetic person confused).

She then needs to submit her application. This is easy, the council will give her the forms and tell her what to do. If your mum is on a low incomes he may not have to pay the full fee for the application. The fees vary a lot from council to council.

I have cut and pasted the following statement from the official Government Guidelines given to local Authorities on the High Hedge Legislation (they are easy to follow even though they are not intended for members of the public).

The role of the Council is to act as an independent and impartial third party. They do not negotiate or mediate between individuals but will adjudicate on whether the hedge is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of the complainant’s property

The high hedge legislation relates just to the height of the hedge (obviously smile.). The roots and the width of the hedge are not considered. The fact that the height of the trees make the house dark and enclosed is considered. It is an informal process and not comparable with going to court.

Sorry, I have rambled on a bit smile. The thing to remember is that the trees are only going to get BIGGER so your mum should seriously think about doing something about them as they are not going to go away on their own.

I would be interested to know what you plan to do.

Debs75 Thu 16-May-13 22:25:32

iiiiii I have put two pics of my mums hedge on my profile. The garden shot shows just how near the trees are planted to the house, about 12-18" away. They bush out about 4 feet into mums garden.
I know there is no right to light but mum doesn't open her living room curtains as all you can see is tree. I have more pics if you want to see but it was so sunny they aren't the best quality

MummytoMog Tue 14-May-13 14:18:46

It's next to the back ginnel behind our row of houses, in between my new fence and an old knackered fence.

MummytoMog Tue 14-May-13 14:17:17

When our neighbours asked us to remove a tree that was blocking their sunlight, we paid for it. I never even thought of asking them to help pay for it. Having read this thread, I really wish I had now...

However the tree in question was a total PIA and my brother took it down for half the quoted cost of the tree surgeon (and chopped it into logs for our woodburner) and I wouldn't have felt comfortable asking them to pay for half his costs. There's a tree very similar to the OP's picture, just the other side of my garden fence, which I think MAY be on my property (not entirely clear from deeds or fencing). Is there a way to find out for sure so I can cut the MoFo down before it dies completely and falls on my chicken run?

cumfy Tue 14-May-13 13:57:59

So how and why is the image taken not from your garden ?

Looking at the image it is clear that were an image to have been taken from the adjacent property (ie yours, apparently) exactly the same situation would have been captured.

Why then would you go to to the bother of travelling to the property that you say is at the end of your garden, and would involve you travelling up your street and down the parallel street to gain access ?

And why does the image look like the trees are along the side not end of the adjacent house ? (Note orientation of houses to left)

Just curious.

cumfy Mon 13-May-13 20:12:25

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

MusicalEndorphins Mon 13-May-13 09:36:28

OP, that is a reasonable price, if I were you, I would do it.

quoteunquote Sun 12-May-13 22:42:58
IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 22:03:10

This is an informative website on The High Hedge Laws It lists other things, such as the hedge being dangerous for you to maintain, that you can consider when thinking of applying to the council with aview for them to enforce the High Hedge Legislation.

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 21:54:38

Oh dear, that is really, really close sad.

The following are examples of the type of things that may determine whether the high hedge laws can be used:

Does your Mum have windows along the side of her house that are badly effected by loss of light.

Does debris from the trees block your mothers gutters?

Do the trees make her garden unusable in places?

The fact that the trees may be causing subsidence or damage to the drains etc is NOT covered by the High Hedge Laws.

You could contact the citizens advice bureau for more info, especially with regard to how to show that you have tried your best to sort this out amicably.

You local Council may offer a reduction in the High Hedge Legislation Application if your Mum is on a low wage etc

REMEMBER. The leylandii will only get bigger! The problem will continue to get worse. confused

Good luck.

Debs75 Sun 12-May-13 21:31:06

The hedges separate the two gardens so are a side hedge not a back hedge. They are as tall as a two storey house with a large attic so bloody huge. The nearest tree stump is probably about 3-4 feet away from the house but they are so tall and so overgrown that the branches touched mums house. About ten years ago they were tapping against her bedroom window so they are definitely close to the house.
We are hoping that the council will do a compulsory purchase order on his house. Little village with about 10 council houses left for renting. They have already bought out 3 home owners who couldn't sell already. If they do buy then mum is praying they will chop them down.

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 21:24:22

debs75

Oh, I name changed for another thread but I am iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii smile.

It sounds like your Mums nieghbours trees may come under the High Hedge Legislation. How close to the house are they? Have you had a read of the UK.Gov leaflet that I referred to earlier. It is not a complicated process and the mere talk of it my be enough to encourage your nieghbour to do something. It's a real common sense bit of legislation as to what is reaonable.

Can you post any photos?

Debs75 Sun 12-May-13 21:06:03

iiiiiiii they are the dreaded leylandi
digerd the houses are council, his ex council and built of wood. Mums was being re-clad, the walls have gone from being about 10cm wide to about 45cm. Anyway the company couldn't get to the walls safely due to the trees so they asked him if they could cut one tree right back. I am wondering if they quoted some health and safety rule about safe working spaces to him as he was happyish to let them deal with one tree but point blank refused to having the rest of them done.
It is really annoying for mum as he doesn't even live there and hasn't for about 50 years. He bought it for his mum who always hated the trees.

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 19:23:39

Sorry for all my typos in my posts blush

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 19:22:00

sock
SugarPasteGreyhound has a 30 foot leylandii hedge less than 10 feet from my living room window. shock He also has my sympathies grin

SugerPasteGreyhound.
It sounds like you have it under control. It does make sense to give a little of the money to your neighbour.
It is nice of you. smile

IneedAsockamnesty Sun 12-May-13 19:15:24

With sugarpastes neighbours won't the high hedge thing not count as its only one tree? I always thought it had to be two or more to qualify.

SugarPasteGreyhound Sun 12-May-13 18:19:59

Sorry wasn't clear. I told them about high hedge legislation and that I will go to council if they don't do anything. However as that would cost me then I'm happy to contribute that cost to them, if we can do it without involving the council.

I'm not chasing them at the moment as it can't be cut now anyway, there are birds nesting in it and the next "slot" would be Sept/Oct. The plan is to leave it until the end of this month then chase them up about it. If I don't get any joy then I'll involve the council.

IrritatingInfinity Sun 12-May-13 18:03:23

SugarPasteGreyhound.
That is very generous of you but you really don't have to contribute anything confused. It is their hedge and their responsibility. I can see that it is nicer to give the money direct o your nieghbour but if ou do that ou have no gaurentee as to what they will do in the future. The fact that they let the leylandii get to the size they did doesn't make me think they are the best of nieghbours.
I would, possible, make a small contribution but I would subtly make it clear that I was aware of the high hedge legislation.
Perhaps, rather than give them any money you could offer to help them clear up.
If you do decide to go ahead and contribute make sure you get to have a say in how high they cut to. (It would be best if they were totally removed) At the very least it would be good if they were cut to a height where it is possible for your nieghbour to access the top of the trees and be able to maintain their height.

Normal leylandii can grow 3 feet a year shock

SugarPasteGreyhound Sun 12-May-13 17:39:06

I'm keeping the high hedge legislation up my sleeve, as I'm working on the basis that it will cost me to male the referral to the council, so I've offered this towards the cost of cutting the hedge instead. Ideally I'd like to stay on good terms with them and I'd rather contribute to the hedge trimming than give it to the council!

If I read it correctly it is not a High Hedge.
They are trees on his side of the boundary - completely different.

You really already have your answer.
Regardless of what we think should be fair
the fact is he can grow his tree as high as he likes and you have no rights.

I would go see him as soon as possible and apologise, grovel even. Make excuses for your rude bad behaviour to get his sympathy.
Or he may refuse to have them cut EVEN if you offer to pay the whole for the whole job.

You are entitled to cut down over hanging branches.

Delayingtactic Sun 12-May-13 16:54:52

OP what are you going to do now?

I think you may have to go to your neighbour with cap in hand and apologise profusely. Tbh you may have a difficult time convincing him to pay anything now. I would be extremely miffed at someone telling me in no uncertain terms that my offer was ridiculous and would now probably refuse to pay anything at all. Perhaps you can ask the other neighbour to split the costs with you and in that way at least you're not completely worse off.

Whatever you do, don't mention the fact that they are professionals with no children - you have no idea of their situation! They may be desperate for children and saving for IVF or saving for something else which is none of your business. You might make the situation worse!

(My friend was told rather crassly that she should foot the bill for sorting out a shared wall as she didn't have children to pay for - it broke her heart as she had had her third failed IVF cycle).

GreenShadow Sun 12-May-13 16:17:37

That's exactly what we did Collaborate.
Our tree wasn't as big as yours presumably was and didn't bother us one way or another if it stayed or went, so told the neighbours they were welcome to arrange for it to be removed. Twas only a bog standard conifer - nothing special and there are loads of other trees, so didn't feel too guilty about removing a healthy tree.

Collaborate Sun 12-May-13 07:36:23

I'm pleased with the responses here. We bought a house 2.5 years ago and inherited a large tree (higher than the house) at the rear of our garden, the top 2/3rds of which overhangs the garden at the rear. It also blocks their sunlight in the afternoon.

They indicated when we first spoke to them around a year/year and a half ago that they would like the tree removing, and we got a couple of quotes the cheapest of which was £1300. I went round to speak to him and told him that we simply couldn't afford to spend this much (we could, but we'd rather spend it on other things). I didn't want to be so cheeky as to ask outright that he pays half, though had they offered we would have paid the other half.

He made no offer to contribute to the cost. We have now decided that as it would only be cut down to benefit them (we wouldn't be bothered one way or the other), and they don't think it's worth paying even half the cost, why should we contribute a penny? So our view now is that if they want it down they can pay to have it cut down themselves. Otherwise it's staying.

IrritatingInfinity Sat 11-May-13 23:47:27

sockreturningpixie
I think that councils usually maintain trees in tenants gardens, I know our local council do. They don't do it for shade problems though.
The best bet is to take a few photos and send an email to your friends local council. I would highlight the problem with the telephone wires.

Good luck.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now