Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my permissi

Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my permissi

Postby Catfish » Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:25 pm

I share a building with two other flats. We share a small front garden which I have looked after for 16 years - ever since I moved in. I came home last night to discover my beautiful bay tree (a moving-in present from my mum) had been pruned back so severely that all that remains is a two foot stump.

The work was carried out by contractors hired by the agent of the owner of another flat in my building.

We live in a conservation area and that tree provided me and many of my neighbours with a constant supply of bay leaves. It also gave me a modicum of privacy, of which I have now been deprived. The work done is not, in my opinion, in accordance with good horticultural practice. The also left a mess, including in my private area.

Is there anything I can do about this, or do I just have to wait for it to regrow? I feel that my living space has been transformed in a way that I don't like, without my consent or even knowledge. Has my neighbour's agent committed any offence (eg criminal damage) or is she just a rude git?
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby arsie » Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:49 pm

Why did the neighbour suddenly up and prune your bay tree? Was this without warning or Is there some background you can explain to us? For example you do seem to know it was somebody's agent employing a contractor? How large was the tree and did it cause any obstruction?

Bay trees need to be pruned regularly but can grow quite large. We had a gift that we moved with us and it survived and grew into quite a large bush, over 2m high and wide. Even quite small ornamental bays are not cheap, £50 or more. A large bush or tree would be worth a bit. In theory you could sue your neighbour for damages but evidence would be needed and proceedings would be risky and expensive. I really don't think it is worth it. Can't you make peace?

p.s. you have posted twice you need to ask admin to delete your duplicate post.
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:05 pm

Hi Catfish,

is she just a rude git?

I take it this is not the axe-wielding, stone-throwing loon?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby Catfish » Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:43 pm

Hi arsie,

I met the owner of the flat last week and she mentioned that she wanted to trim the tree back a bit. I said that was fine, but would never have consented to the complete removal of all branches and foliage. I emailed her last night and she replied that it was her mum who had organised the work, and anyway, the tree will grow back, so what's the problem. The problem, as I outlined above is the loss of an amenity, and particularly the loss of privacy (passers by can now see right into my kitchen (and now I will have to get dressed BEFORE I make my morning coffee, or risk inadvertently flashing at the schoolkids who traipse past en mass at various times throughout the day)).

The tree was heavily pruned last year, and was pruned again earlier this year to allow for external decoration. It was not excessively tall, nor was it touching any part of the building.

I'm certainly not thinking of suing for damages, but it would be nice to get an apology and a commitment to talk first before anything like this happens again. I actually get on pretty well with the owner and have no interest in jeopardising that, but this is just the latest in a long history of less than neighbourly behaviour. When her windowframe fell out of her back window and smashed my bench (£120) she never offered to repair or replace the bench. When I informed her about the overcrowding and antisocial behaviour of her tenants she did nothing (her loss - the tenants did a runner earlier this year leaving her with a repair bill of about £10,000). She has seen the damage to my walls caused by her tenants pouring buckets of water on the floor but has never once offered to do anything about it. All I really want from her this time is an acknowledgement that her actions have adversely affected my enjoyment of my home and for her to apologise.

Hi Mac,

No, this is not the crazy neighbour, although she reared her ugly head last week when I had some scaffolding put up at the back. She stormed out of her house and demanded that the scaffolders tell her what they are doing. One guy gave her a bit of a funny look, then said, deadpan, "I'm building a boat." This was the morbidly obese mother of the owner of the flat above mine. We've bumped into each other a few times over the years and she's always a bit rude to me. I don't think she likes white people much.
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:57 pm

Hi Catfish,

We've bumped into each other a few times over the years... ...I don't think she likes white people much

IMHO not a good idea to prefix such a loaded statement with an admission you don't really know the woman at all.
(your opinion might well be based on much more info but you've not shared it...)

anyhow, why would anyone hire someone to lop a bay tree to leave a two foot stump?!? very odd indeed.
it is not clear from your postings who owns the garden...

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby Catfish » Tue Sep 02, 2014 11:03 pm

Unfortunately, I can hear everything that goes on in the flat above, so although I rarely meet her I have a pretty good understanding of her world view!

The three flats are leasehold. The front garden is split into three areas: the pathway leading to the main door; my own private area (steps leading down to my door and a bit of space in front and beside a bay window); and a 2m x 2.5m (approx) area at street level containing a small (three-plant) privet hedge and what remains of the bay tree.
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 11:12 pm

Hi Catfish,

I can hear everything that goes on in the flat above, so although I rarely meet her I have a pretty good understanding of her world view!

like I said, your opinion is based on more info than you chose to share and now makes much more sense.

The front garden is split into three areas:
the pathway leading to the main door;
my own private area (steps leading down to my door and a bit of space in front and beside a bay window);
and a 2m x 2.5m (approx) area at street level containing a small (three-plant) privet hedge and what remains of the bay tree


so you don't own the area where the bay tree is planted - who does?

Kind regards, Mac
PS I don't think you're going to get an apology from the culprits btw...
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby Catfish » Wed Sep 03, 2014 12:10 am

The freeholder owns the garden. The leaseholders each have the right to keep a bin in this area. However, when I moved in everyone kept their bin on the street in front of the garden and the council didn't worry about it. The whole street did it. Had been going on for years. So I asked the other two leaseholders if they minded if I dug up the concrete and planted some flowers there. They both thought it a great idea (it's not a great place to keep wheelie bins as you have to lug them down a step then up again to cross my front steps and wheel them onto the street). A few years ago the council suddenly wanted all of the bins off the streets, so now we keep them on the path leading to the main door (which, ergonomically at least, is a better place for them anyway). I planted the bay tree in the front garden about 10 years ago. I suppose my point is that we've always been able to talk about and agree on what goes on in the front garden and I'm rather taken aback by this sudden deviation from our established practice.

I'm not claiming ownership over the tree, but I had grown accustomed to the protection it gave me from seeing my crazy neighbour too often. I couldn't see her front garden from ours and vice versa. That privacy has now gone. It won't grow back any time soon and I'm just wondering how best to get my privacy back.
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:55 am

Hi Catfish,

I'm just wondering how best to get my privacy back.

I find curtains or blinds do an excellent job.

I suppose my point is that we've always been able to talk about and agree on what goes on in the front garden and I'm rather taken aback by this sudden deviation from our established practice.

I don't blame you - I'd be annoyed as well - but they sound like the sort who don't say sorry.

All the best, Mac
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby catapult1 » Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:18 am

You admit you don't own the land in question but have become acustomed to having it as your own.

Was the tree overhanging the path or other area used by they other leaseholders?

Is ther a photo we can see?
My answers are not of a legal nature, only what I consider to be common sense.
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby arsie » Wed Sep 03, 2014 12:01 pm

Catfish, thanks for the reply. From that I would say that you maybe could have avoided the damage to your bay tree: I met the owner of the flat last week and she mentioned that she wanted to trim the tree back a bit. In my experience - and admittedly with hindsight - other people seldom do the correct job even if you stand over them.

At the time you discussed it, I would have politely said 'I plan to prune it' and 'Bay trees are tricky to get right - how much do you want me to take off?' Letting someone else loose on a valued tree (and the owner sort of admits the tree is yours by asking you) I would never risk. As it is, either by the instructions given by the owner or the contractor's own initiative the damage is done. My limited experience of over-pruning bay trees (ornamental) is that they are easily killed. I hope yours isn't. Nothing more you can do :(
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby Catfish » Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:07 pm

Hi arsie,

Yes, for years I have been doing all of the front garden maintenance myself, but this year I'm just too busy, so I was quite glad when she suggested she would hire someone to do it. She appeared to indicate that she only wanted to cut it back a bit (she pointed to where it would get cut back to). So I left it at that. The privet hedge also needed pruning (and my hedge trimmer has conked out), so it seemed like a good idea. Sadly, it appears that she hired some cowboys. They even messed up trimming the privet hedge (how hard can that be?)
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby Catfish » Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:10 pm

Hi Catapult,

No, the tree was not overhanging anything, except the neighbours bins (with the permission of two out of three of the flat owners next door).
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Re: Neighbour reduced my bay tree to a stump without my perm

Postby Catfish » Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:12 pm

Hi Mac,

Curtains would prevent light from entering. The tree allowed in plenty of light, but meant that if crazy neighbour and I both took our rubbish out at the same time we wouldn't see each other. Now we will. That is a problem.
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