Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby Treeman » Sun Jun 23, 2013 7:14 pm

kipper wrote:How many times has it gone past the threat stage and what were the judgements in the small claims court, I.e full cost of claim or partial?



I don't do the court action, I do trees.

I bill the client and they pay me, I differentiate the cost of disposal from the cutting and provide a form of words for the client so they can pursue the matter themselves. Most people pay up immediately, some take legal advice, most don't let it get as far as the paperwork.
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby Alan Harris » Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:23 pm

Dear Treeman

I live in Kent and my neighbour has an apple tree which overhangs my garden. I have cut the branches back to the line of boundary but some slightly overhang my plant beds. Even so the apple tree deposits many apples which are eaters but are almost always rotten or containing maggots and so are just a mess in my garden. I have always thrown the apples back into the neighbour's garden in the area where their other apples naturally fall so that she can dispose of them along with those falling anyway. We have followed this procedure for more than a decade but suddenly the neighbour has complained about apples being thrown back. I do this carefully not to hurt anyone.

Is there any reason why I should change my behaviour :?: My neighbour has not compained before and I have always treated the apples as hers which I believe them to be.

Obviously I cannot debate this with her as I consider the apples to be hers and I always make sure that no-one is about when I return them not wishing hurt anyone.


regards


Alan Harris
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby Treeman » Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:06 pm

Alan Harris wrote:Dear Treeman

I live in Kent and my neighbour has an apple tree which overhangs my garden. I have cut the branches back to the line of boundary but some slightly overhang my plant beds. Even so the apple tree deposits many apples which are eaters but are almost always rotten or containing maggots and so are just a mess in my garden. I have always thrown the apples back into the neighbour's garden in the area where their other apples naturally fall so that she can dispose of them along with those falling anyway. We have followed this procedure for more than a decade but suddenly the neighbour has complained about apples being thrown back. I do this carefully not to hurt anyone.

Is there any reason why I should change my behaviour :?: My neighbour has not compained before and I have always treated the apples as hers which I believe them to be.

Obviously I cannot debate this with her as I consider the apples to be hers and I always make sure that no-one is about when I return them not wishing hurt anyone.


regards


Alan Harris



Well until the complaint becomes a threat of legal action do as you please
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby Conveyancer » Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:53 pm

The fact that the apples may be your neighbour's is not relevant, especially now that she has objected. Throwing them back is a trespass.
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby Alan Harris » Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:44 am

Dear Conveyancer

I understand your point about throwing things onto the neighbour's land technically being a trespass however there are some aspects to this which require some deeper thought.

The original ownership of the thrown apples is, you say, irrelevant but I would imply that the law would permit or require me to return the neighbour's property. If the neighbour did not own an overhanging apple tree I as a disabled person would not have to clear up the mess caused by the tree and effectively carrry out her garden maintenance.

In the case of overhanging branches cut from a neighbour's tree the return of them to the neighbour is the neighbour's right and I would interpret the return of apples as a similar circumstance. In fact the retention of the apples may otherwise be theft. Are you suggesting that the return of branches is a trespass?

Finally there is no loss to the neighbour arising from the returned apples (quite the contrary if they were not rotten). What would the court award as damages on the loss to the neighbour of her aples or to me for damages to my expensive flowers, bonsai trees and lawn?

I do not believe that this has been tested at court so it seems that the only possibility is that an injunction could be sought. The cost for the neighbour seeking an injunction would be phenomenal and the courts are not inclined to award costs when the loss or damage is trivial.

best regards

Alan Harris

My own view is that the owners of trees with overhanging branches have a responsibility for nuisance caused by their trees (messy apples over ones lawn) and should not even leave it to the neighbour to remove the overhang. Strictly under the trespass tort the tree branches are no less tresspass to air than an overhanging crane!
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby kipper » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:50 pm

Alan Harris wrote:My own view is that the owners of trees with overhanging branches have a responsibility for nuisance caused by their trees (messy apples over ones lawn) and should not even leave it to the neighbour to remove the overhang. Strictly under the trespass tort the tree branches are no less tresspass to air than an overhanging crane!

But you say the branches have been cut back to the boundary line and only some remain slightly overhanging. I fail to see how this is resulting in many apples dropping into your garden. Of course, some may get blown over by the wind but this is nature. It's not really a hardship having to dispose of a few apples - you're picking them up to throw them back over - just pick them up put them in a carrier back and dump them in the bin (ask if you can put them in her bin, if you're that bothered).
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby despair » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:58 pm

Put them in the compost bin
If everyone had a worm bin or compost bin their gardens would benefit
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby Alan Harris » Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:04 pm

Dear Kipper

The branches are cut back but not the higher ones (we cant reach even with an extended trimmer) so we get, at present, about 15 apples a day and more if it is windy. Picking them up may be easy for a fit person but not for us. You are welcome to come and see for yourself before making a presumption.

You have missed the point. One can always help neighbours if one wishes and we are not averse to doing so but damaged flowers and trees etc and rotting apples on the floor are not our choice. I use a grabber to pick things up so collecting apples is a chore which do not wish to have to do and requires a lot of effort on our part. I use two walking sticks and need to carry a grabber, which hand should I carry the carrier bag in? My partner is a pensioner and is disabled as am I and she uses a wheel chair. Having a stroke and COPD is not conducive to carrying out tasks which we should not need to do. We tried composting but the attraction of vermin is not desireable. In any event carrying around apples to dispose of them is also extra effort. We already have enough things to do to try keep the garden in some order.

More to the point is the legal question of what we must do rather than what do we chose to do. You also have not considered ownership of the apples. By keeping them are we stealing the neighbour's apples. Thank you for your comments but all I want to know is whether I have a legal liability to collect and dispose of my neighbour's apples. If she did not have an oversized apple tree there would be one less daily job for us to cope with.

Is there a case which defines the responsibility?

best regards


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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby despair » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:43 pm

This is yet another situation where all the facts at the start would assist us to help in replies

Legally the apples belong to the tree owner that is 100% sure

Given the OPs disabilities the neighbour is being more than unreasonable

But equally maybe the OP really needs to think about either getting Voluntary services to help out in the garden or move into something with less problems to deal with
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby kipper » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:36 pm

Alan Harris wrote: You are welcome to come and see for yourself before making a presumption.

I base my responses on the facts presented. If the situation is not described correctly that is when misunderstandings occur. I have had this situation with a neighbours apple tree next to our garden which was not cut back at all and were never picked and we got nowhere near 15 windfalls a day . As conveyancer says the neighbour has objected to you throwing the apples back, therefore if you continue to do so it is a trespass and you are not stealing them if you keep them. Legally it is unlikely action would be taken, but you are at risk of falling out with your neighbour if you haven't already. Better to discuss and see if you can agree a resolution even if this means you both compromise on costs to prune the tree. The "why should I?" attitude never really wins.
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby Alan Harris » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:46 pm

Dear Kipper

Compromise means we tidy up the consequences of the neighbour's failure to control their tree and their sharing of our air space not to metion root growth and shade which reduces the growth of plants in our garden. You have skimmed over the situation by suggesting that we put ourselves out dispite our disabilities. Our neighbour is very fit and is not short of the funding which would enable her to properly trim her tree (which is also diseased and has dead branches none of which are over our property yet). In a world of limited space I believe that neighbours should respect each other's space and look after their own waste and rubbish

The legal position you describe, as far as I can tell, is little more than anecdotal. Whilst trespass is a tort the essence of the outcome of disputes of this kind depends on precedent. I am not aware of any relevant case and, from my direct knowlege of judgements, the courts are not presently at all sympathetic to litigants who waste the court's time in trivialities. I am trying to find a case with similar circumstances as at present I can see no serious implication for what I am doing and would like to see how any outcome of a case for land trespass (throwing objects) would give a party a reasonable chance of success to my neighbour and what the similarity of circumstance actually is. I think that the return of apples is hardly comparable to to the sort of ocurrance which might be considered a trespass. As it happens our table and chairs for relaxing in the garden are close to the tree as we have a garden not a field. Newton may have discovered gravity when an apple fell on his head, I do not need to rediscover it.

best regards

Alan Harris
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby arborlad » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:16 pm

Alan Harris wrote:............. enable her to properly trim her tree (which is also diseased and has dead branches none of which are over our property yet).

best regards

Alan Harris



You don't specify which disease, but if the tree is properly pruned and any disease issues addressed, you're more likely to have some edible fruit falling into your garden than rotten.
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby Conveyancer » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:02 pm

The law likes cats, cricket and trees. If a neighbour's tree overhangs your garden he is not liable for any leaves, pollen, sap, flowers or fruit which fall from the tree and land in your garden because it happens naturally.

Any invasion of another person's land without his consent is trespass unless accidental. Consent is only implied in limited circumstances none of which are relevant to this thread. A trespass is a trespass is a trespass. Stray half a foot's width onto someone's land and it is a trespass. Throw a mustard seed over the fence and it is a trespass.

In considering whether throwing something over a neighbour's fence is a trespass how it got there is irrelevant. Whether he is the owner of it is irrelevant even if it got there by an act of trespass on the part of your neighbour. Trespass does not justify trespass. Any requirement of the law that you should offer to the neighbour the thing trespassing means precisely that you should only offer it; it does not extend to returning it until the offer is accepted when it should be returned by delivering it in the same way as anything else is delivered or in such way as the neighbour may agree.

When it comes to what you need to offer the neighbour a common sense approach needs to be taken. Clearly you ought not to keep any washing that has blown onto your land. It is established law that if you cut back a tree you have to offer the arisings, but I do not think that in practice you need to offer back the clippings when you trim a hedge. There has to be some doubt about whether you have to offer anything which has fallen naturally, but in any event no one can reasonably be expected to collect every single dead leaf. If your neighbour says he wants the rotten apples tell him he can have them if he comes and collects them.

There are no specific cases I know of because so far (apart from the fruit tree case which concerned ownership rather than trespass) no one has been silly enough to litigate over this type of issue. However, I do not think there is any doubt that throwing apples over a garden fence when the neighbour has asked you not to is an actionable trespass.
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby Alan Harris » Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:09 am

Dear Despair

The facts of our case are not really relevant to how the neighbour should look after her tree but I still neeed to find an example of a court case which is similar to our situation. The site is, after all, called "Garden Law". I did not think that the site was intended for a cathartic exchange of problems but it should provide help and actually draw useful conclusions. Whilst the comments and chat lines are interesting, as yet, they have not been helpful. Do you, Despair, have a secret source of voluntary aid for garden work or do you not live in the real world.

The apples are a trifling annoying issue. They do not justify any major change of domicile just because the neighbour cant be bothered to look after her own tree and her own rubbish. It would be ludicrous for us to consider moving and paying the cost of moving, probably to a much less convenient situation, just because the neighbour has suddenly chosen to object to returned apples after more than a decde of acquiescence. In any event the physical effort in moving quite exceeds the effort of collecting and returning apples. We mange to put the apples back although that is still irritating to have to do. The apples should not be our problem!

best regards


Alan Harris
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Re: Returning/not returning trimmings to neighbour

Postby COGGY » Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:48 am

Hi Alan
While I fully appreciate your difficulties it is extremely unlikely that your neighbour will come into your garden each day to pick up the apples which have fallen. Therefore, as you will be picking them up yourself, how is it easier to throw them back over the fence than putting them into a bin? I can see that this may annoy you, but in the overall scheme of things it is not such a big deal. If you read through other posts on this site you will see that some posters have much worse situations to deal with. Surely at least some of the apples could be used? If you do not use them yourself, put them in a box outside the gate with a note inviting others to help themselves. You will most likely find an empty box in no time.
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