Neighbours, Overhang – and the Disposal of Cut-off Branches

Neighbours, Overhang – and the Disposal of Cut-off Branches

Postby dercetas » Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:01 pm

I have been browsing extensively on these boards, and I think I am clear about most of the issues relating to tree overhang. However there is one point about which I have read conflicting opinions.

I know that it is the "person suffering from overhang" (PSFO) who is responsible for getting the work done. My query relates to the cut-off material.

Some people have said that the PSFO must offer the cut-off material to the tree's owner, but that – if the tree's owner says "No thanks" – the PSFO is then obliged to dispose of it himself.

And some people have said that the tree's owner cannot reject the cut-off material, and must accept it if it is "offered" by the PSFO. In other words, it's an offer he can't refuse.

Which is correct?
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Re: Neighbours, Overhang – and the Disposal of Cut-off Branc

Postby despair » Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:10 pm

Not sure where you have seen the info that "if arisings are offered back the tree owner must accept them "

Certainly you must offer them back as otherwise you could be accused of theft

Good Gardeners used to cut back their neighbours side so it did not encroach anyway but in recent years that kind of consideration has gone out the window
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Re: Neighbours, Overhang – and the Disposal of Cut-off Branc

Postby WILL*REMAIN*STRONG » Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:26 pm

dercetas wrote:I have been browsing extensively on these boards, and I think I am clear about most of the issues relating to tree overhang. However there is one point about which I have read conflicting opinions.

I know that it is the "person suffering from overhang" (PSFO) who is responsible for getting the work done. My query relates to the cut-off material.

Some people have said that the PSFO must offer the cut-off material to the tree's owner, but that – if the tree's owner says "No thanks" – the PSFO is then obliged to dispose of it himself.

And some people have said that the tree's owner cannot reject the cut-off material, and must accept it if it is "offered" by the PSFO. In other words, it's an offer he can't refuse.

Which is correct?

http://www.problemneighbours.co.uk/righ ... nches.html

I don't know if it is written anywhere in stone, that the tree owner must dispose of their own branches if offered them back. The advice given is usually to offer them back, and dispose of them yourself, if they are refused.

Tree experts should know, as they deal with this very often. Maybe one can answer this with absolute certainty.

The above advice of 'offering' usually helps people escape huge fallouts over who has to do what by law. A tree cutter, not tree expert told me to throw cuttings over the fence. So where no sense or knowledge is involved, ridiculous advice is given...which I thankfully ignore.

Wait for an expert to answer this, because I don't know for certain, and I think a lot of others are in doubt too.
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Re: Neighbours, Overhang – and the Disposal of Cut-off Branc

Postby Treeman » Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:59 pm

WILL*REMAIN*STRONG wrote:
dercetas wrote:I have been browsing extensively on these boards, and I think I am clear about most of the issues relating to tree overhang. However there is one point about which I have read conflicting opinions.

I know that it is the "person suffering from overhang" (PSFO) who is responsible for getting the work done. My query relates to the cut-off material.

Some people have said that the PSFO must offer the cut-off material to the tree's owner, but that – if the tree's owner says "No thanks" – the PSFO is then obliged to dispose of it himself.

And some people have said that the tree's owner cannot reject the cut-off material, and must accept it if it is "offered" by the PSFO. In other words, it's an offer he can't refuse.

Which is correct?

http://www.problemneighbours.co.uk/righ ... nches.html

I don't know if it is written anywhere in stone, that the tree owner must dispose of their own branches if offered them back. The advice given is usually to offer them back, and dispose of them yourself, if they are refused.

Tree experts should know, as they deal with this very often. Maybe one can answer this with absolute certainty.

The above advice of 'offering' usually helps people escape huge fallouts over who has to do what by law. A tree cutter, not tree expert told me to throw cuttings over the fence. So where no sense or knowledge is involved, ridiculous advice is given...which I thankfully ignore.

Wait for an expert to answer this, because I don't know for certain, and I think a lot of others are in doubt too.



I can say with absolute certainty that we often return the branches to the tree owners property.

We do this where it is possible without causing damage. If there is a whiff of neighbour spite we leave them on the clients property for them to dispose of in any way they can conscience.

Contrary to dispairs opinion there is no MUST and while anyone can accuse someone of theft, the precedent that set this rule is archaic and the value of a few branches is probably going to be de minimis.
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Re: Neighbours, Overhang – and the Disposal of Cut-off Branc

Postby WILL*REMAIN*STRONG » Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:07 pm

Treeman wrote:I can say with absolute certainty that we often return the branches to the tree owners property.

We do this where it is possible without causing damage. If there is a whiff of neighbour spite we leave them on the clients property for them to dispose of in any way they can conscience.

Contrary to dispairs opinion there is no MUST and while anyone can accuse someone of theft, the precedent that set this rule is archaic and the value of a few branches is probably going to be de minimis.


I would trust your advice over someone who throws leaflets through doors any day of the week. We have offered, not thrown or insisted the neighbour should dispose for us, simply to keep things neighbourly.

But it seems fair for the tree owner to receive back what is theirs. Although I have often said people cutting back should dispose of branches instead of insisting the tree grower take them and dispose of them, in hope the peace is not broken more than anything, but I didn't really know either way. :lol: :oops:
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Medway Council's View

Postby dercetas » Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:05 am

Thank you for your various helpful replies.

After I wrote my post here, I googled a bit, and came across this advice on the Medway Council website:
"The vegetation you prune off is still technically the tree owner’s property and you have to offer it back to them, although they do not have to accept it. In the event that the tree owner does not want the vegetation, you would be responsible for its disposal. You are not allowed to simply put the tree material back over the boundary fence into their garden."

That looks pretty definitive, but I am always a little sceptical of internet information that comes from just one source (however reputable and responsible that source may be) – indeed I have in the past found contradictions between two different local authorities' interpretation of some law or other.

Therefore if anyone turns up on this thread with unequivocal knowledge of the position in law, his or her input would be most useful...!
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Re: Neighbours, Overhang – and the Disposal of Cut-off Branc

Postby despair » Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:16 am

Medway Council ..................."have to offer arisings back "

I said.................................... "must offer arisings back "


same difference


and exactly what has always been understood to be the correct proceedure

but we all know theres one person on this forum who insists on nit picking anything i post
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Re: Neighbours, Overhang – and the Disposal of Cut-off Branc

Postby Treeman » Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:35 am

despair wrote:Medway Council ..................."have to offer arisings back "

I said.................................... "must offer arisings back "


same difference


and exactly what has always been understood to be the correct proceedure

but we all know theres one person on this forum who insists on nit picking anything i post



But Medway council dont make the law do they? Repeating something that is wrong dosent make the repeated statement right. Any LA's advice will have been run past the borough solicitor and will be taylored not to drop the LA. in it. That's the danger of the internet, people read things and fail to assess the context and even if they are wrong they place reliance on them.

I know there is no must because trees are my daily bread and have been for decades, I could not count the occasions where we have carted off arrisings from overhang, it must happen hundreds of times a day across the uk. I have yet to face a summons for theft and I don't know of another contractor that has, and I am pretty sure such a monumenal event ( in my little trade) would make the trade press if it did happen.
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Re: Medway Council's View

Postby WILL*REMAIN*STRONG » Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:31 am

dercetas wrote:Therefore if anyone turns up on this thread with unequivocal knowledge of the position in law, his or her input would be most useful...!


Try this site, you can ask a solicitor for free. http://www.rightsolicitor.co.uk/

I notice that every website says "offer the branches to the tree owner". Very careful not to state whether they have to accept them, or you as the one cutting back, must dispose of if they are refused.

Perhaps the law is confusing and not written in such a way many can interpret, so the advice is vague and stops at 'offering back arising’s.' In other words, people need to apply common sense and approach the matter with caution. It is not written in stone that you need to ask the tree owner first, but it is always given as sensible advice. The offering back of branches is returning the property to its rightful owner.

Each case perhaps needs judging on its own merit. If I cut back a tiny tree with spindly little branches and kept putting them outside my neighbours door, it is going to annoy. If I cut a large branch off a tree which could be used as firewood, or is difficult for me to dispose of, perhaps my neighbour should want to help, as it their tree.

If it was written in black and white that you could dump the branches on the neighbour’s property as long as you do not cause damage, there would be far more fallouts between neighbours, as many would do just that. I wonder if that bit is left blank/kept vague, as so many councils are fed up of reports of this kind. The advice is to help, give caution and hope that it is clear to most sensible individuals to use common sense when dealing with such an issue.
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Re: Medway Council's View

Postby Treeman » Tue Jul 17, 2012 12:21 pm

dercetas wrote:Thank you for your various helpful replies.

After I wrote my post here, I googled a bit, and came across this advice on the Medway Council website:
"The vegetation you prune off is still technically the tree owner’s property and you have to offer it back to them, although they do not have to accept it. In the event that the tree owner does not want the vegetation, you would be responsible for its disposal. You are not allowed to simply put the tree material back over the boundary fence into their garden."

That looks pretty definitive, but I am always a little sceptical of internet information that comes from just one source (however reputable and responsible that source may be) – indeed I have in the past found contradictions between two different local authorities' interpretation of some law or other.

Therefore if anyone turns up on this thread with unequivocal knowledge of the position in law, his or her input would be most useful...!



You are very wise to be cautious, council websites are usually most conservative in their advice and the content is ( should be)covered by the boroughs solicitor.

They pretty much have to tow that line, imagine of they said, "chuck it from whence it came" and the chucker said, "read it on the councils website"' it would keep the switchboard busy for a while.

The long and short of it is that there is no single law govering this but a distillation of case law.
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Statute Law and Case Law

Postby dercetas » Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:39 pm

Thank you, Treeman and Will*Remain*Strong, for your most interesting – and indeed thought-provoking – posts.

What you write provides a healhy reminder that the statute book doesn't have a law to cover every situation that could conceivably arise in human interaction...!

Clearly, the principle about offering to their owner what I now know are called "arisings" makes perfect sense for reasons that you have mentioned – the stuff belongs to the tree's owner; it may have some minor value (say as firewood); taking it is theft. It's as simple as that.

However it is, on reflection, most unlikely that anyone ever sat down and drafted a law prescribing that, if the above offer is rejected, the offerer is obliged (or not obliged) to dispose of the arisings himself. Indeed whether even "case law" would assist cannot be certain...! Anyone who went to court over a dispute about who had to pay for a few branches to be disposed of would have been very foolish (although of course folly and legal proceedings are not uncommon bedmates...).

I am of course just trying to establish the ground rules – but as far as I can see the ground rules in respect of this point will have to remain a grey area. It is therefore to be hoped that they do not need to be put to the test...!
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Re: Neighbours, Overhang – and the Disposal of Cut-off Branc

Postby juliet » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:40 pm

Most law relating to this area is based on case law and will always be a bit grey I imagine. It is clear from the case law so far that you can cut to the boundary and that the cuttings belong to the tree owner. Everything else is grey. I had a row with my neighbours about this after I cut off overhang. My neighbour called the police. The policeman who attended told me to throw the cuttings back over the fence or I would be guilty of what he called conversion. Opinions differ all over because the lack of case law but that council advice is certainly incorrect. I think that so long as people act reasonably you can't go far wrong.
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Re: Neighbours, Overhang – and the Disposal of Cut-off Branc

Postby WILL*REMAIN*STRONG » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:00 pm

I really think the advice to throw cuttings over the fence is bad advice. We too were advised to do this, but it seems wrong. If the police give this advice, then people who come to this forum upset that their neighbour has thrown cuttings in their garden, we had best advise them to go clean up and forget about it. :o

I don't know where I read it now, but I read that it was fly tipping to chuck branches over the fence, even if they did belong to the tree that side?
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Re: Neighbours, Overhang – and the Disposal of Cut-off Branc

Postby juliet » Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:01 pm

I agree Will and although I think that someone has mentioned fly tipping on here previously and I don't think that it is. I didn't think fly tipping applied to be privately owned land (although always happy to be corrected).

Obviously as mentioned earlier - could have been another thread mind - the case law that established that the offcut belonged to the tree owner was made at a time when there was some value to the offcut so all we need now is for someone to keep the offcut and then someone bring another case to see what the opinion is these days :D

I think that in an ideal world, we should ask the neighbour if they want them back and if not dispose ourselves. But I think that if something returns offcuts carefully, then there isn't much that the tree owner can do.

I lobbed mine while the policeman watched :twisted:
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Re: Neighbours, Overhang – and the Disposal of Cut-off Branc

Postby Treeman » Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:28 pm

juliet wrote:I agree Will and although I think that someone has mentioned fly tipping on here previously and I don't think that it is. I didn't think fly tipping applied to be privately owned land (although always happy to be corrected).

Obviously as mentioned earlier - could have been another thread mind - the case law that established that the offcut belonged to the tree owner was made at a time when there was some value to the offcut so all we need now is for someone to keep the offcut and then someone bring another case to see what the opinion is these days :D

I think that in an ideal world, we should ask the neighbour if they want them back and if not dispose ourselves. But I think that if something returns offcuts carefully, then there isn't much that the tree owner can do.

I lobbed mine while the policeman watched :twisted:



That's exactly the way of things.
.
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