Can trees be a private nuisance

Can trees be a private nuisance

Postby chilluk7 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:40 am

We have 3 mature oak trees in 3 different properties running down the back side of our house / garden - the closest of which is less approx 3m from the corner of the house.

When we moved in the trees were lower than our roofline, now they are 10-15ft above it - approx 40-45 ft tall now. Over the 10 years we have lived here the trees have received next to no maintenance save for a small trim to one of them probably 6 or 7 years ago - they took nothing off our side when that was done.

I have tried to maintain our boundary as best I can using expensive freestanding ladders and the longest loppers money can buy. We did have a loft converison 4 years ago so I did use the scaffolding when it was up to do a pretty good job of clearing back to the boundary, but now the height has gone beyond where I can reach, even out of the loft windows, any of the taller branches. These branches are well over our roof line now.

Obviously we suffer with no sun, loads of debris (leaves / branches / just bits that cover everything), everything turns green, nothing grows, washing gets showered in birds mess. We have had incidences of squirrels getting in the loft space, and on Christmas day 2 years ago no less, one fell down the internal boxing of the soil pipe from the soffit space so we spent that Christmas with a large hole in the wall and a squirrel hiding in there! So I have had to try and sqirrel proof the roof by stuffing wire mesh into the pantile gaps!

We do have some odd cracking to our brickwork, but I had a surveyor in who reckons it's the bricks rather than any stresses causing it - we are on pile and beam footings according to local authority - house built circa 1997. I am still concerned because of the size / proximity of the trees that we will get issues at some point as it just seems inevitable that left to grow unchecked the root system will have to expand to support the height.

Now from previous research it appeared we just had to grin and bear the situation, and just cut off what we can reach. Apart from the first occasion which did spark a small exchange of words with one neighbour, I have always informed them before I cut anything off, and in my exchanges with them they seem perfectly happy to just let the trees grow and grow - I have offered access, and did at least once (when we had the loft done) offer to contribute to get someone in to do more - the answer is that they "like the trees".

Anyway fast forward to now - one of these trees is affecting my immediate neighbours light. He has a pal who is a solicitor, who offered to pop by and take a look - it was a free visit so we thought it couldn't do any harm. He came round and then did us a letter which reckons that we would have a strong case to take these neighbours to court as the trees could constitute a private nuisance on the basis that :

- They are affecting our enjoyment of our property
- They would likely lower the value of our property
- They would likely scare off any buyer or certainly any mortgage provider
- The branches / roots are tresspassing

The letter then invites me to employ their services - for £250 an hour of course. And then there would be 3 separate case fees for the 3 individual neighbours and their trees.

So rather than throw money I don't have into a fools errand, which would of course further entrench the neighbours position into being less than helpful, I went to CAB who basically took the opposite stance and said we are helpless unless there is material damage being caused - although I wasn't 100% confident in the advisor we saw.

So we are stuck between two differing "legal" opinons - one saying we have every right to demand some action is taken to reduce the trees in height and encroachment, and the other than says just grin and bear it until something bad happens.

There is no doubt that at their current size the trees are causing us distress. Other people in the area get their Oaks crowned every couple of years which seems a sensible solution, albeit I know expensive.

So I guess my question is what options / approach can / do we take from here. Has anyone ever proven trees are a private nuisance without existing material and structural damage? I can see this would be based on an opinion rather than any actual laws, and I can't throw thousands at something that would depend on a judges mood on the day!

Are we able to approach the neighbours with a polite request to reduce the size of the trees knowing we have a Plan B up our sleeves if they refuse?

Many Thanks
chilluk7
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:33 am

Ads are not endorsed by www.gardenlaw.co.uk or the staff thereof and visitors should perform their own due diligence on the product or service offered.
 

Re: Can trees be a private nuisance

Postby kipper » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:47 pm

Without going into ins & outs , the CAB is pretty much correct if the trees are considered healthy. Best to negotiate with the neighbours but, ultimately, if they do not wish to contribute it is unlikely you will be able to make them.
kipper
 
Posts: 855
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:10 pm

Re: Can trees be a private nuisance

Postby chilluk7 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:00 pm

Thanks for that. Now as this solicitor is a good friend of my neighbour I don't think he was trying to get me to line his pockets for no reason, but I was under the impression that it would come down to a judgement call anyway and obviously I would have to prove some sort of loss (valuation of property vs similar dwelling perhaps).

Just wondering why he would advocate a case (apart from the obvious) - has that ever been done, are there any precedents?

I assume that to do something with guaranteed success that will require some damage first - overhanging branches breaking tiles, or roots damaging structure? Regarding trespass of branches / roots is that a dead end angle?

Should I approach on the basis that I am looking to head off costly issues / disputes later on down the line if they are left to grow unchecked?
chilluk7
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:33 am

Re: Can trees be a private nuisance

Postby kipper » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:24 pm

Trespass of roots & branches is not relevant as the law gives you the right to remove the trespass. The other things I think are subjective and I can't see them getting anywhere with it - the mature trees were there when you purchased the property so it's a case of caveat emptor. I would request the solictor to provide examples of relevant case law before I decided to proceed with his offer.

Surveyors reports should highlight issues of trees IMO, not just for potential structural problems but also enjoyment to property - people don't seem to realise how much leaf/twig/branch droppage there may be and, most of all, the fact that they grow. Tree maintenance isn't cheap so, if the owner is not blighted by the growing tree, it is unlikely that they will be willing to fork out for someone else's enjoyment.
kipper
 
Posts: 855
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:10 pm

Re: Can trees be a private nuisance

Postby chilluk7 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:14 pm

Thanks again.

Regarding something I read on Peterborough Council site (not my LA) :

"The point must be made that with ownership comes responsibility. Should any damage or injury be caused arise out by the tree then the tree owner will be fully liable for any reparations or compensation. Although a person may have the freedom to own a large tree, because of the greater implications of the failure of a part or all of the tree, it must be checked for health and safety by an arboricultural consultant at least once every 5 years, if every year is prohibitive (but advisable) and after severe weather; and suitably certificated to indemnify the tree owner."

Stating about "The point must be made that with ownership comes responsibility" and inspections to large trees - none of them take any responsibility so I'm still not sure if I should approach them and remind them of these responsibilities - soon the branches will be touching my roof again, but at a point I can't reach to cut.

Or just go for the completely friendly route and offer to contribute and give free access to any tree surgeons they might "like" to employ?

If they were mine I'd be getting them crowned (is that the right term) every other year like a lot of other people do, but then I worry about what impact I have on others!
chilluk7
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:33 am

Re: Can trees be a private nuisance

Postby Conveyancer » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:58 am

On the basis of the information supplied, in this case I would put my money on the CAB and not the solicitor.
If you have benefited from advice on this site please consider contributing to a cancer charity.
Conveyancer
 
Posts: 5609
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2005 3:19 pm
Location: Andalucía

Re: Can trees be a private nuisance

Postby ukmicky » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:29 pm

Conveyancer wrote:On the basis of the information supplied, in this case I would put my money on the CAB and not the solicitor.


On the 2 occasions i have advised and accompanied someone for moral support to the CAB i have found their advice to be trully wanting. Hopefully they are not all like the 2 i went to.

Maybe we were just unlucky
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
ukmicky
 
Posts: 4546
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:13 pm
Location: London

Re: Can trees be a private nuisance

Postby TOTOO » Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:51 am

The 'Solicitor' is 100% wrong. (As is most of the Peterborough Council stuff)

Do not give him any money.
TOTOO
 
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:34 pm

Re: Can trees be a private nuisance

Postby Conveyancer » Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:33 am

ukmicky wrote:
Conveyancer wrote:On the basis of the information supplied, in this case I would put my money on the CAB and not the solicitor.


On the 2 occasions i have advised and accompanied someone for moral support to the CAB i have found their advice to be trully wanting. Hopefully they are not all like the 2 i went to.

Maybe we were just unlucky


The advice given by CABs is variable. Over all they tend to be stronger in some fields than others, but the reliability of advice in any particular field is going to vary from place to place and depend on who is on duty when you drop in.
If you have benefited from advice on this site please consider contributing to a cancer charity.
Conveyancer
 
Posts: 5609
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2005 3:19 pm
Location: Andalucía

Re: Can trees be a private nuisance

Postby Conveyancer » Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:58 am

TOTOO wrote:The 'Solicitor' is 100% wrong. (As is most of the Peterborough Council stuff)


Unfortunately quite a few councils have incorrect statements of the law on their sites. Council's legal departments are not what they were since they were emaciated by outsourcing. Further, councils find it difficult to recruit lawyers because they cannot compete with private practice and that was not always the case. Those factors make it difficult for councils to build up a body of expertise and the lawyers they have are expected to cover too many areas.
If you have benefited from advice on this site please consider contributing to a cancer charity.
Conveyancer
 
Posts: 5609
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2005 3:19 pm
Location: Andalucía

Ads are not endorsed by www.gardenlaw.co.uk or the staff thereof and visitors should perform their own due diligence on the product or service offered.
 

Return to Trees

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests