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Neighbour says we've cut down his tree

(42 Posts)
Nessalina Tue 07-Feb-17 23:31:41

After my folks bugging me about it for ages we finally got the massive sycamore tree in our garden cut down. It's been overshadowing the house and dropping sap all over for years, and the neighbours opposite have mentioned a few times that it blocks their light.
A week later the neighbour that we share that border with knocks on the door and says that we've cut down his tree! Our garden ends in a row of scrubby trees (we're not gardeners!), then his fence is behind the trees, and this sycamore is clearly our side of the fence. I asked him to show me what he meant and he pointed out a low broken stone wall that is between our trees and his fence, and said that's the boundary, and the 30cm between the wall and the fence is his. And this one tree is (was) in that space.
Apparently he can now see right across the street and it's a disaster for his view, but the trees left are still house hight, so I don't see it myself...
He's never trimmed or maintained the tree himself (we've had it cut twice before) and in the 10+ years we've been there I've assumed it was ours. After all, it's OUR side of HIS fence.
He said his solicitor has said that if I didn't have an appropriate response then he should really report it to the police as theft. This is bullishit surely?!
What's the worst that can happen here?

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 07-Feb-17 23:36:48

Let him report it. I can just imagine the rapid police response hmm grin

Can you check the boundary yourself? That's what I would do first.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 07-Feb-17 23:38:20

The worst that can happen is a police officer dies laughing.

The second worst is your neighbour is informed it's a civil matter and he attaches a value to the free and makes a claim in the civil court.

MockTurtleSoup Tue 07-Feb-17 23:39:21

Theft of a sycamore tree hmm I reckon he's bull shitting. I'm pretty sure the police have bigger fish to fry.

HappyGoLuckyGirl Tue 07-Feb-17 23:40:38

As long as the tree didn't have a tree protection order on it or was deemed to be of ecological value then there's nothing he can do.

Other than take you to civil court. Which he would be hard pressed to do.

fairraid Tue 07-Feb-17 23:42:26

Yep, i wouldn't lose too much sleep over it, unless the tree had protection order against it then there is nothing they would waste their time with.

Villagernumber9 Tue 07-Feb-17 23:43:06

If the tree is on your side of the fence then, it is yours. If he has put a fence up himself on the opposite side of the tree, he has moved his own boundary so, the tree is still yours.
Tell him to phone the police if he wants, they can't and won't do anything.
As for theft, is he on drugs or something?

Jesterstolehisthornycrown1 Wed 08-Feb-17 04:12:15

Take lots of photos tomorrow of where the tree was and where the fence is now.
Then check your Deeds and see where your garden ends.

RebootYourEngine Wed 08-Feb-17 05:47:59

He sounds unhinged. Just ignore him.

Scarydinosaurs Wed 08-Feb-17 05:54:14

Did he explain the reason for his fence being past his boundary?? If he moved it, you've 'used' it (paid for tree maintenance, 'enjoyed' haha the tree) so now it's yours.

NightWanderer Wed 08-Feb-17 06:02:14

I think Step 1 is to check the boundary yourself. It seems fairly easy to do. He's obviously bullshitting about the solicitor.

JanuaryMoods Wed 08-Feb-17 06:49:23

Send him a bill for the work you paid to have done.

Fidelia Wed 08-Feb-17 08:11:54

Don't worry about it. Given you've been using/occupying the land for 10 years, even if it was his originally, it's probably now yours under adverse possession.

WhatWouldLeslieKnopeDo Wed 08-Feb-17 08:13:35

What does he consider an "appropriate response"?!

Nessalina Wed 08-Feb-17 09:25:33

I'm really not sure what the man expects. I can't put the tree back, and I wouldn't even if I could! I've rung our conveyancer this morning to see if we can get a copy of the deeds, and it's good advice to pop out and take some photos too!
If he comes back over I think I'm going to ask him to put his complaint in writing if he feels he has a valid concern.

PolterGoose Wed 08-Feb-17 09:35:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gleam Wed 08-Feb-17 09:41:14

It took him a week to notice! 😂

EnormousTiger Wed 08-Feb-17 09:46:09

You can also pay £6 on line at the Land REgistry and order the title deeds and importantly the plan so you can see the boundary. Often they are not very clearly written however. Sometimes I am afraid trees and fences do not represent the true boundary. We have a house nearby where the boundary is not where the hedge is and a new hedge planted in front is on that person's land even though it does not look like it as in front of his hedge.

Never ever cut down a tree without looking on line at the local council website to see if there is a tree preservation order on it (and if you are in a conservation area you cannot take any trees down even without the TPO unless you notify the council in advance).

If this man thinks his boundary is where the stone wall is in what is your garden then if I were he I would build the wall up and replant a tree on "his" land.

eurochick Wed 08-Feb-17 11:34:06

You can get a copy of the boundary from the Land Registry yourself for a couple of quid.

Allthebestnamesareused Wed 08-Feb-17 15:40:17

If he marked his boundary with a fence then you could argue that you have obtained the 30cm of land by adverse possession especially as he has seen you maintain the tree and never taken any steps to inform you that he believes it to be his. (12 years needed for adverse possession).

I would respond saying youe believe the land to be yours and therefore the tree, that he has seen you maintain the tree over x number of years and never taken steps to tell you at that point of his purported ownership.

If you have lived there for 12 years and he has never ever mentioned that the land/tree was his tell them even if the land is not yours, which is not admitted, then you have by now acquired possession of the property by way adverse possession.

Please feel free to report the theft of the tree to the police (I do not think a solicitor wrote this letter!!)

Nessalina Wed 08-Feb-17 22:29:50

Alas, we've been in for 11yrs! 18 months off squatters rights... damn!
I took some pictures today, and it's very vague. The stone wall is quite broken up, (probably because of the tree!) but the tree looks like it's grown out from under 'our' stone wall into the space in between. The fence he put up is newish and replaced one that was there already. To the naked eye it's very obviously part of our row of trees - there's loads of hawthorn in the way so it's tricky to see the exact roots.
We never thought to mention it when we were having it cut because its right at the bottom of his garden, nowhere near his house, so wouldn't have been disruptive. Plus we thought it was ours!

Nessalina Wed 08-Feb-17 22:31:25

It's really hard to see in the picture, but the bottom left of the pic is one big ol' stone and there's the same type on the right, right up against the tree. That's the 'wall' that he is claiming is the border.

Villagernumber9 Wed 08-Feb-17 23:20:54

Like I said. If he has put up the fence, with the tree on your side, he has moved the boarder. This puts the tree on your side, and also puts the law on your side.
Just don't lose any sleep over the nut job.

NightWanderer Thu 09-Feb-17 00:47:16

I'm not sure that Villager is correct. If the wall was broken and he wanted to replace it with a fence, then obviously he couldn't put the fence on the exact boundary because of the trees and couldn't put it on your land because that would be illegal, but the land is still his, he's responsible for maintaining it though.

I think the best thing to do is to invite him around for a cup of tea and chat. Explain what happened and apologise for the misunderstanding. Ask him how he would like the situation to be resolved and negotiate if you think he's being unreasonable.

What you don't want is years of bitterness and a court case over a few inches of land and an old tree. Better to resolve things amicably if possible.

MrsBertBibby Thu 09-Feb-17 07:02:55

This is quite a straightforward summary.

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