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Tree problem with neighbour

(55 Posts)
June2009 Wed 03-Jun-09 15:36:02

I wonder if someone could point me in the right direction?

We bought our house in 2006 and there is a poplar tree on our land that the neigbhour's wife wants us to cut down or get rid of competely because of the pollen it releases.
We would begrudgingly cut it though we can't afford it right now. (estimates have been around £1500).
The neighbour is very keen on having it cut but not keen at all to contribute towards the cost.

We had a look at the citizens advice bureau website and it basically says that if it bothers them then they can cut their side up to the boundary. We don't mind that however the tree is tall so if they cut their side it would be unbalanced and probably become dangerous.
The problem with having a dangerous tree from what I have read is that if our neighbour could then ask the council to remove it and charge us for the cost.
Does that still apply if they are the ones who made it dangerous by cutting it in the first place?

The neighbour is being unpleasant about this, she won't talk about anything else every time we see her and nags about it.

As far as we are concerned:

a) A mature garden was part of the requirements for buying the house, this tree is around 40 yo and we were not made aware of any previous disputes with the previous owners. (ie: there weren't any disputes, the solicitors check that kind of thing when you buy a house.)
b) She says her whole family is allergic, seeing that the youngest ones are teenagers, if that was really the case I think they would have dealt with this problem years ago, the tree did not start pollenating when we moved in.
c) If it was causing such a real problem affecting their health surely they would offer to contribute to some of the cost.
d) I am due to give birth this sunday so the tree that has been in the garden for the past 40 years does not figure on my to-do list, nor can I see us having the tree cut this summer with a baby to care for. She said today she'd want to do have it done in 2 weeks.
e) We live in an area with lots of trees, if this one is cut surely she'll get pollen allergy from other trees?
f) We like the tree.
g) There is absolutely no room in our budget for cutting the tree.
h) The tree is not dangerous or near their house (it's at the back of the garden).

Any idea on how to handle this?

They had a tree surgeon come and have a look at the tree today to give an estimate.
Same as the estimates we got: £350 to cut the top and sides, but that won't fix her problem and it'll need to be done again in 2 years, plus she doesn't want to pay for it.
or £1200 to cut the tree entirely, she doesn't want to pay for that either.

<sigh> and all I want to do right now is pack my labour bag and finish the nursery!

crokky Wed 03-Jun-09 15:44:05

Don't have any advice, but feel sorry for you living next to someone who sounds quite nasty.

I doubt a tree surgeon would cut the bit of the tree that overhangs her property if it would make the tree dangerous.

Am pretty shock that she is the one saying she wants it cut but won't pay for it. There are quite a few people like this around - thinking they can dictate what is going to happen on someone else's property!

crokky Wed 03-Jun-09 15:45:50

I think you should photograph the tree now incase she cuts it and makes it dangerous.

Also, perhaps you could check with the council whether it has a tree protection order and what exactly your obligations/rights are wrt this tree and your neighbour. The council were very helpful to me (my neighbour complained about my garden to the coucil and council said I had done nothing wrong).

HecatesTwopenceworth Wed 03-Jun-09 15:49:02

I think I would say "I would happily cut it, but I simply do not have the £X I have been quoted. If I ever have £X spare, I will cut it, or you are free to pay a professional yourself to cut it if you prefer. I'm sorry if that's not what you want to hear, but I can't make money appear from nowhere."

Lilymaid Wed 03-Jun-09 15:49:07

For the legal position, have a look at Garden Law

SoupDragon Wed 03-Jun-09 15:52:28

I would tell them that they are welcome to cut the tree down but you will not be paying for it.

midnightexpress Wed 03-Jun-09 15:53:19

Interesting. We have the opposite problem - trees overshadowing our garden from a neighbouring property, and my understanding from the council is as you say - we can cut down overhanging branches. I hadn't heard that if it is then made dangerous we could charge them to cut it down. That sounds v unreasonable if it was them that made it dangerous in the first place though. I would definitely make sure that you take pics as evidence before and after and also try to clarify the situation with the council.

God I'm sure this is the last thing you want to be thinking about atm!

trixymalixy Wed 03-Jun-09 15:56:08

If you don't want to cut it down then don't cut it down.

There is no way you should be paying for it to be cut down full stop. If the neighbour wants it done that badly then they should be prepared to pay for it.

Tell her that there's no way you will be dealing with this anyway given the imminent arrival of your baby.

Tinker Wed 03-Jun-09 15:57:43

But you can be allergic to all sorts of flowers/trees. Surely you can't demand that neighbours systematically remove stuff from their gardens to alleviate your symptoms?

June2009 Wed 03-Jun-09 16:10:51

Thank you for your all your prompt replies, it's quite reassuring.
I will take some pictures today, hadn't actually thought about that!

crokky: I will call the council to double check, I doubt it is though, I think we checked this when we bought the house. Apparently we could ask the council if they would consider placing a tree preservation order on the tree but I don't really want to go down that route, it would just be restrictive if we decide to sell the house or even to cut the tree down in a few years time.
Lilimaid, I'll have a look at that site now thanks.
Midnight: I hope you're not my neighbour ;)
I found the bit about dangerous trees [[ http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/familyparent/housing/neighbourdisputes.htm here]]

midnightexpress Wed 03-Jun-09 16:13:09

Don't worry June, we've already cut down the branches grin

<waves at trixy, who is my neighbour, sort of>

June2009 Wed 03-Jun-09 18:43:00

Well the neighbour's husband came by after work and it did not go very well.

Dh and him went oustide near the tree and he said he had the estimate down to £250 for top and sides or £900 to cut it down entirely.
They want to have it dealt within the next 2 weeks and would be prepared to pay £375 out of £900 to have it completely cut. Leaving us to fork out £525.
We said 2 weeks is not really an option because of: a) timing with the baby coming b) not enough notice financially,
We offered to cut it in 2 month's time (after the summer) and we'd agree to go halves on £900 then. He said he won't pay half "because it's not his tree."

Then he said (at which point he's raised his voice and I can hear him from upstairs, inside the house) "Nevermind, I will get my side cut in 2 weeks."
My husband asked again politely not to bring chainsaws around in 2 weeks because of the new baby. DH also said that their tree surgeon mentionned today that it wouldn't be a good idea to cut just one side, and what would they do if it made the tree dangerous?
The neighbour stormed out saying he's cutting his side and we can get in touch with our lawyer if we have a problem with that.

Somewhere in the conversation he also mentionned that we shouldn't be complaining about the cost because dh drives a sports car (nevermind that it was bought second hand 5 years ago before we even moved here and after saving for years for it) and that we bought a new car this year (which is needed for the baby, nevermind that I owned my old banger for 11 years before that and had to sell it, that the new one is on finance and that we'd been saving for a deposit for ages).
I feel that's got nothing to do with them how we manage our finances.

Anyway I know there is nothing we can do if we want to cuts his side, just worried about the tree not being stable anymore if they go ahead and do that.
Dh wants to put our offer in writing of either having the top and both sides cut and we can put £100 out of £250 towards it, or having it cut in september and pay half.
That's a better solution to their problem for us, even though ideally we just want to keep the tree.

I say let's just let him cut his side as we can't do anything about it anyway.
Will have to call the council tomorrow as they are closed now to see where we stand exactly.

I just don't know what the rush is when they've lived here 12 years and they have to do it now that I'm about to pop.

June2009 Wed 03-Jun-09 19:02:34

Just re-read and it should be £350 for top and sides, not £250.
£250 is what he was quoted to cut just his side.

CarGirl Wed 03-Jun-09 19:11:09

I'd leave them to it.

I would check the legal position about liability ie if you can claim from them if their lopping makes it dangerous!!!

If it does become lop sided then you will have to get it cut down but as they won't pay for that then it won't make much difference anyway! I doubt it would become dangerous quickly.

I would also check that they don't cut off anymore than they should IYSWIM, get more photographic evidence just in case.

They aren't going to be reasonable!!!! I have lots of tree pollen allergies, I don't see how one tree being chopped down would really make a difference.

Tinker Wed 03-Jun-09 19:11:12

I'd go and see a lawyer. I think this is outrageous expecting you to pay at all. This is becoming bullying. I wonder if this was an issue with previous owners (and that's why they moved?) but think they can start on you before you've been there long. How long is the poplar pollen season anyway?

LadyMuck Wed 03-Jun-09 19:12:02

I think that your neighbour is being unreasonable.

But, if you do have any money to spare at all I would think about putting it in this direction. Having a poor relationship with your neighbours will blight your enjoyment of living where you live.

They are offering to make some sort of contribution to the cost, which if course they don't have to do (and of course neither do you have to cut the tree). If you agree to do it then presumably you will have slightly more control over timing than otherwise (though am impressed that you can get a tree surgeon to do a job within 2 weeks at this time of year - some of ours have a 5-6 week wait.

Letting them get on with cutting their part of the tree doesn't sound a great move.

crokky Wed 03-Jun-09 19:12:18

How nasty, I'm sorry they are doing this to you especially at this time.

shock at him saying he won't pay half because it isn't his tree. What a stupid moron not to realise the irony of saying "it's not my tree" grin - so why exactly does he think he has the right to get it cut down?

They've behaved disgustingly and they should be ashamed of themselves harassing you like this.

Tinker Wed 03-Jun-09 19:15:10

But read that again: They want to have it dealt within the next 2 weeks and would be prepared to pay £375 out of £900 to have it completely cut. I'm actually really angry on your behalf and would probably cut off my nose to spite my face re the TPO.

Also live near trees and am allergic to loads of them

dooit Wed 03-Jun-09 20:02:03

Do you know the sex of your tree?

Odd question, but I think only male trees carry allergens according to this (unless I've got the wrong end of the stick as I often do!).
here

clam Wed 03-Jun-09 20:27:23

This is outrageous behaviour on their part. How can you allow them to dictate to you in this way?

It's your tree, and the bottom line is you like it and don't want it cut down. Even if you could afford it (and didn't have a new baby imminent) why should you, just because they don't like it. What part of 'No' don't they understand, to come back with "we want it done in two weeks." That response is, i guess, their way of getting you diverted from "no" to "not at the moment." Which is half their battle won.

Also, how on earth can they prove that this tree is the cause of their allergies? Nonsense. And anyway, any tree's pollination period is a couple of weeks a year. Take Beconase like everyone else with hayfever.

Don't fall for it. Just say no!

trixymalixy Wed 03-Jun-09 20:34:48

But what good is cutting a bit of it off going to do?!?!?!? They'll still be exposed to the pollen from it.

I would tell them to take a running jump and withdraw your offer to go halves on cutting it down. It's not as if your relationship with your neighbour could get any worse.

angry on your behalf!!!

<<waves to midnight>>

123andaway Wed 03-Jun-09 20:40:45

I think you're neighbours are behaving very badly!!

Yes they are entitled to cut down what overhangs their garden (legally they have to give you back the bits they have cut off!!!), but to expect you to destroy your tree because they have a pollen allegy, and then to expect you to pay for the pleasure, the mind boggles!!!!!

I take it they are planning to get a proper tree surgeon to cut the overhang? I think you need to make it very clear to your neighbours that if they do anything to the tree (or instruct anyone else to do something) that makes it unsafe so that it has to be removed, that you will be taking legal action against them. I would suggest that any damage they cause to your tree would consitute criminal damage, and is something that you could make a complaint to the police about. It would be worth seeking some legal advice from a solicitor before they touch the tree, and definitely take some pictures.

Good luck with baby!

SoupDragon Wed 03-Jun-09 21:20:33

I would not,under any circumstances, pay to have that tree cut down now. If they want it cut, they should pay given how rude they have been.

Don't put your offer to pay half in writing, given the neighbour's behaviour I wouldn't trust them not to use it against you somehow.

Your relationship with them is already shot to pieces IMO, whatever happens you are going to resent them for it. Should you notice someone chopping at it, go and talk to the to ensure they are not going to leave it in a dangerous condition but other than that, take photos of the tree as it is now and forget about it. Concentrate on your baby.

RedFraggle Wed 03-Jun-09 21:34:19

How dare they comment on your possessions! Even if you had thousands of pounds just sitting in the bank it does not give them the right to stipulate what you spend them on!

I would definitely NOT contribute to the cost of the tree removal and I would now be looking to have a tree preservation order slapped on it to boot.

Cheeky sods!

southeastastra Wed 03-Jun-09 21:39:47

tell them it has bats and will need to see if it has to be preserved, that'll stall them for a bit!

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