Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby Buzzard » Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:34 pm

I am new to this forum and apologise if this post is in the wrong place. I would appreciate any advice that can be given on the following, and probably very common, dilemma.

The fence on the left hand side of our garden, which divides our garden from the neighbour's garden, is our responsibility. It is 2 meters tall. The previous owners of our house (we moved last october) grew ivy along approximately 6 meters of the fence and took time to erect a trellis on the fence and keep the ivy trimmed to a neat shape. It has grown to be 12 to 18 inches higher than the fence. Immediately after the ivy is a jasmine climber, which has also grown approximately 12 to 18 inches higher than the fence. I appreciate that ivy is an invasive plant that can be an annoyance to neighbours and I know they are free to cut the ivy as much as they like within their boundary. I also understand that boundary plants should be kept to a reasonable height and am happy to negotiate this. I should add there is no supporting trellis above the fence. Any plant growth that exceeds 2 meters is 'self-supporting'.

However, our neighbours took it upon themselves to cut back the ivy and the jasmine last week. This was done without notification or discussion and when we were at work. They have used a hedge trimmer to cut back both all of the ivy and all of the jasmine to the height of the fence. In other words, they have leant over the fence and cut back plants in our garden.

Needless, to say, I am not happy about this, though I am keen to maintain good neighbourly relations. I would like the ivy and jasmine to grow as they were before (i.e., about 18 inches higher than the fence) as they provide a useful screening function and help to screen a security light in the neighbour's garden. The ivy also harbers much wildlife and birds have used it a lot.

Does anyone know what the law is on this matter? Were my neighbours legally entitled to cut back growth in our garden to the height of the fence?

Many thanks for any responses.
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby despair » Sat Jun 18, 2016 10:20 pm

Whilst your neighbours are legally allowed to cut back anything which encroaches over the boundary and should OFFER back the arisings which you can refuse

They have absolutely no right whatever to reduce the height of anything you grow no matter what it is nor can they cut beyond the boundary

There is no height stipulation whatever on plants , grasses or hedges or trees

The only possible restriction is evergreen hedges like Leylandi which if they seriously interfere with light to living rooms they can apply to formally use the HIGH Hedge Law
but this must only be done in the correct way and via correct letters , mediation and use of the L:ocal Council and paying a fee

Hence your neighbours are bang out of order and you will need to approach them on the matter and appraise them of the law
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby Buzzard » Sat Jun 18, 2016 11:24 pm

Thank you for your reply. This is as I understood the matter. Can anyone else concur with this so I can be doubly certain of the law before approaching my neighbour. What specific law has been broken? It will be useful if I can refer to it when discussing the issue.

What legal recourse do I have in this matter? I have no intention of pursuing the matter legally, unless my neighbour made a habit of this. However, it would be useful to have some facts at my fingertips that I can refer to when discussing the issue with my neighbour in terms of how I could pursue the matter further.

Ivy is, of course, evergreen. Does this change the issue at all?

Thanks very much.
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby Collaborate » Sun Jun 19, 2016 7:53 am

Despair is right. The law is very clear.
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby despair » Sun Jun 19, 2016 9:11 am

Just in case theres any further question Your neighbour also

Must not :-

Paint or stain your fence
Grow anything whatever up it
Attach anything to it
Pile or lean anything against it
allow balls etc to be thrown or hit against your fence

If the fence is in "shared " ownership ..........check your deeds

Then all decisions about the fence must be jointly agreed
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby arborlad » Sun Jun 19, 2016 9:22 am

Buzzard wrote:The fence on the left hand side of our garden, which divides our garden from the neighbour's garden, is our responsibility.



In this context, ownership and responsibility are usually considered one and the same.

Can you clarify ownership of the fence, your thread title indicates it belongs to the neighbour.
arborlad

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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby Buzzard » Sun Jun 19, 2016 11:15 am

arborlad wrote:
Buzzard wrote:The fence on the left hand side of our garden, which divides our garden from the neighbour's garden, is our responsibility.



In this context, ownership and responsibility are usually considered one and the same.

Can you clarify ownership of the fence, your thread title indicates it belongs to the neighbour.



To the best of my knowIedge I own the fence. The previous owners of my house replaced a length of the fence on the same side approximately one year before we moved. Our neighbours on the other side are currently replacing the fence on 'their' side and paying for it. I'll check the deeds as ownership of the fence could be more complex than I realise. I could, of course, ask the neighbours concerned.

Let's suppose the fence in question is jointly owned. Does this change the legal situation regarding the legality of a neighbour cutting back plant growth within my property's boundary without my consent?

Thanks
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby arborlad » Sun Jun 19, 2016 12:00 pm

Buzzard wrote: What specific law has been broken?



None................in almost all situations like this, it is simply common law not to have your property damaged or trespass if they have crossed the boundary whilst doing so.
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby despair » Sun Jun 19, 2016 3:35 pm

The ivy /shrubs are your property and within your boundary .............the neighbours have zero rights to touch your property beyond cutting back and offering the arisuiings from anything which encroaches their property

the anaology you need to present them with is

Would they like you to slice the top off their car or caravan because it appeared above a 2 metre fence ?
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby mr sheen » Sun Jun 19, 2016 4:25 pm

Reality check!.......if you have plants that you care about, keep them well within your boundary. If they encroach beyond your boundary the neighbour has the right to use the full extent of his property as he chooses and since encroaching plants reduces the extent of his rights, he has the right to remove the encroaching vegetation without notice. Equally you could do the same if his plants were encroaching onto your property.

It would be nice if he took out little secateurs and snipped to the boundary....but most people do not have the time or inclination to pamper next doors plants and often hack them back to around the boundary area or some engage a chainsaw or hedge cutter to remove the encroachment. There is, in reality, not a lot that can be done about it since you have allowed the encroachment and the nuisance to the neighbour to occur. Hence if you have valuable plants or ones you care about, best to grow them 100% in your own garden to avoid the annoyed neighbour removing your nuisance in a manner that then annoys you creating 2 annoyed neighbours.
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby despair » Sun Jun 19, 2016 8:39 pm

Mr sheen

Your response is rather harsh and forgets the neighbours have reduced the height of the ivy etc

We know they are entitled to cut back to the boundary and the OP is perfectly happy to keep the ivy etc maintained

Quite how you conclude the neighbour is entitled to just cut the whole lot off to fence height is beyond me
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby Buzzard » Sun Jun 19, 2016 9:11 pm

Thank you for your replies so far, which give me enough information to approach the neighbour. I find Mr. Sheen's reply implausible as it seems clear one is entitled to cut back growth that encroaches into one's property, but not the growth within the neighbour's boundary. It seems unlikely plants can be trained to grow only within one's garden boundary: training it thus would require leaning into the neighbour's property in order to prune.

I like the analogy of cutting off the top of someone's vehicle if it is higher than the fence.

The question still remains of what legal measures could I take if this happens again? Would I use a solicitor or would it be pursued through the local authority? I would appreciate any advice.

Thanks
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby COGGY » Sun Jun 19, 2016 9:43 pm

Hi

Would it not be possible to use a stake to support your plants in your own garden? You do not have the right to permit your plants to trespass into the neighbour's garden.

Regards Coggy
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby despair » Sun Jun 19, 2016 10:09 pm

Technically the neighbour has commited criminal damage and police should act but they are often reluctant to and will say it will grow back

My inclination in your situation would be to add 1ft of trellis to your fence and warn the neighbour that if they dare to cut anything beyond the boundary or reduce the height you will have no option but to involve police for criminal damage

Be sure to take perodic photos and do your best to ensure the growth remains in your garden
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Re: Cutting back plant growth on neighbour's fence

Postby Buzzard » Sun Jun 19, 2016 10:40 pm

COGGY wrote:Hi

Would it not be possible to use a stake to support your plants in your own garden? You do not have the right to permit your plants to trespass into the neighbour's garden.

Regards Coggy


Perhaps a 1ft trellis on top of the existing fence would be a solution, as suggested by despair. However, doesn't this exceed the 2m height fence height permitted between properties, or is it the case that a trellis is permitted up to a certain height above 2m? I think the neighbour on the other side of the neighbour in question has erected trellising, which implies the neighbour's in question are not averse to this. It would have the benefit of providing a useful template up to which the plant should be grown and can be trimmed.

So, am I entitled to erect a trellis up to a certain height on top of the existing 2meter fence?
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