neighbour cut top of my hedge without asking.

neighbour cut top of my hedge without asking.

Postby sharman24 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:37 am

hi to all,
have a problem which would like advice upon. we have a privot hedge at the end of our garden, was there when we movied in 14 years ago. our property was built approx 1934.Our hedge stands approx 10-12 feet in height at present, but understand from the top of our garden down to the front of the other property the all the gardens slope so any hedge or tree will be higher on the other side. the neighbours garden is behind our hedge and i would say is approx 40-50 feet in length, then there house.
hedge is maintained by us twice a year. it is kept clean and tidy. approx 7 years ago neighbour erected a domer in his roof which removed our privacy from our garden, no letter of this build was ever sent to us. we were not happy but decided to let the privot hedge grow approx 3 feet more which gave us some of our privacy back, and kept this neat and tidy.
he approached me several years ago and wanted to cut my hedge down to 6 feet, which we declined as it meant his kids would just continue to hang out of the window looking into our garden, but we did compromise in saying yes we would if he fitted frosted glass to the dormor windows. this he declined and went off in a huff.
a year ago we came home to our hedge being reduced in height by approx 2- 3 feet and cut back to just sticks. we approached him and requested he does not cut anymore and reported to the police, he got very abusive.
his method of cutting was one of hacking away with no other reason than to cut back in a savage manner, this was witnessed by our neighbour next door to us.
unfortunatly the police failed to go around to him.
this year, one sunday morning, he decided he was going to cut it again...
now he has not cut off the top but has leaned over the boundary by about 3-4 feet and had made the whole hedge very unstable, and seems to of cut into the hedge about 4 feet down rather than slope the cut.
we decided a letter may be the way to remind him not to cut this and we explained that after last year we wanted no further cutting so as we could then allow some strength to establish in the hedge and then attempt to correct his butchering from last year.
we contacted the police again this year and have this time had it reported with a case number.
today i have recieved a letter from them in which they admit to cutting the hedge last year and say they have only trimmed it this year, but did not go over the boundary....but they did by about 3 feet.

they explain they have a right to be able to use their garden in comfort and enjoy the summer
they also sent me a load of paper work concerning the high hedge law and that they have a right to go to the council and have it cut down.
they also say that they now have to have their lights on in the house from 3pm onwards in winter as the hedge is blocking their light? and say that the top end of their garden in is continually in the shade yet the sun comes over their house and drops down to the west which is the direction their garden faces?, but their property slopes upwards.
they say the CAB have advised them to go to the council as it is over 2 meters tall.

what they dont seem to relise is the fact they have cut over the boundary without consent and continued again this year...

we do not wish to fall out with these, not that we have a lot to do with them, but looking along the boundary left to right along all the other older properties here there are tress and hedges that are the same height and taller, many not as neat and tidy as we keep ours.

i would be grateful if someone could offer me some advise on where we stand....would the council really impose an order when there are plenty of other hedges and trees within close proximity.
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Postby despair » Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:50 am

If their house is 40 ft away from the boundary and the Hedge I doubt they will suceed in getting any height reduction under the High Hedge Law

Too many people are under the impression the High Hedge Law means all hedges must be 6ft6in high at max ...that is simply not true

You need to go to www.hedgeline.org
or the Governments Environment website or get a copy of "Over the Garden Hedge " from your Council and work out under the BRE guidelines what the Action height of your hedge would be

Equally your neighbour MUST follow correct proceedure and also pay a fee to the council to have a HH Law adjudication

so do some reading and be armed with the true facts

They can only cut back strictly to the boundary which may be the trunks of the hedge ............you need to establish the correct boundary and maybe even install a fence of some kind so that any future cutting is clearly defined for a Criminal Damage action
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Postby sharman24 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 11:14 am

hi thanks for the info, an original wire fence already exists although many years old. our concern is the fact we explained why not to cut it this year and yet he has still done this.

quoting from their letter:

[i]my husband did come to your house 7 years ago to ask if we could lower the hedge becuase it was blocking the light and we could not use the top end of garden from around tea time because it is continually in the shade and during winter months we need to keep lights on in our kitchen from about 3pm. so now the hedge is far too high and very hard for my husband to keep it maintained on our side. all we are asking is for it to be cut at the same level as we have cut it on our side
we went to CAB about the situation and they advised us that we can put a complaint into the council using the high hedge act as the hedge is well over 2 meters tall


we are quite happy for them to continue this action if so wished, but the previous actions of them cutting and topping my hedge will need to be addressed first. i am not sure if the council would now want to do anything knowing that they had already cut over my boundary and damaged the hedge and then decide to complain all without asking in the first instance.
one other fact is, we still do not have any privacy in our kitchen since the dormor went up, as the window faces directly into our property.
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Postby WILL*REMAIN*STRONG » Fri Jun 18, 2010 11:53 am

You don’t cut first and then complain after, they are in the wrong. What they have done is commit criminal damage because you have reported this to the police previously and have not under any circumstances given them permission to cut again but they have done. You have a crime number and witness, I would take court action, get an injunction against them cutting it again. The high hedge legislation is for people who want to use the correct channels to get a hedge reduced, I doubt they will be successful in their complaint. You need to prevent any further hacking.

Don't let this drop because it will go on and on, your hedge is your property whether they like it or not. They can't just ruin your garden and take your privacy away because they feel their need is greater. If we all behaved like this it would be outright anarchy.
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Postby sharman24 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:06 pm

thank you for the reply, i think my best course of action is to reply to their letter from this morning and quote the ' you cannot cut first then complain'.
and it seems as they are indicating there needs in their garden is greater than anybody elses.

i beleive they have been mis-guided by CAB, but hey if they wish to pay out for council to come around i have no problem.
its not like my hedge is only a few feet away from their property, and i understand those who suffer from large hedges over their property and quite right to have law to deal with this, but i dont beleive in this case it warrants any council intervention. like i said before, i judge their property to be at least 40 ft maybe more from the hedge.
thanks again.
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Postby sharman24 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:07 pm

hi forgot to mention, already contacted my local police person, and waiting for her to get back to me.
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Postby WILL*REMAIN*STRONG » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:33 pm

What they have described in their letter to you is normal. Lights on after 3pm in winter, garden shaded after tea time. Most gardens are in shade in parts during winter months, we use lights on dull days during winter in the afternoon. It is little to do with hedges or trees, it is the sun being lower in the sky and having less daylight hours. I find those statements most unreasonable. They cannot expect a right to a view in to your garden nor should they expect to dictate what height your hedge is by brutally hacking it instead of adhering to the law and going through the correct channels. If you took issue to something in their garden would they accept you smashing it or leaning over to steal it? No, because you would be committing a criminal act. The police really need to start dealing with these issues because mature plants, trees and hedges don’t just pop back up again. They can be ruined just like a smashed window or wall knocked down by car etc... This should not be acceptable behaviour in a civilized society.

CAB will simply give them the information to follow, they will not know the full details so will direct them to the high hedge people. If someone is successful with a complaint it doesn’t automatically mean a hedge will be reduced to 6ft. It depends on how high the hedge is and how much light it is blocking, they do their calculations and can say the hedge must be reduced to a certain height, that height might be considerably higher than 6ft. There is no rule that says all hedges must be 6ft or 6’6.

Ask the police to arrest the neighbour, say you want charges brought against the neighbour for twice cutting the hedge without permission. Don’t let them fob you off because it isn’t an isolated incident, it is criminal damage. You have proof that the neighbour hacked your hedge against your wishes for it to be left, you have a witness, try to get the police to help you. Explain that this hedge is what gave you privacy and that what has been cut is within your garden so therefore the neighbour has no right whatsoever to cut it. Ask them to warn the neighbour against touching it again other than what overhangs their garden and strictly only that, not the height.

You neighbour needs to accept there is a right and wrong way to do things and the wrong way can land them in much trouble.

Be careful about what you put in writing, perhpas someone else can advise you on that one. See what the police are willing to do to help you, I do hope they take it seriously because to do this twice against your wishes is twice too many. If the police want to help prevent awful situations occurring between neighbours, as it is an ever increasing issue, they need to start taking serious the complaints they receive. Especially the ones with evidence such as your situation, as you have had to complain twice and so far nothing has been done, you should not have to complain a third time.
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Postby despair » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:06 pm

Do you have any idea exactly how high it is on the other side ?

It would need to be way in excess of 30ft i would think in order to have any effect on light to their house or come under the HH Law

Light to their garden is irrelevant

If the Police will not act you will need to simply put in writing that

1) They must never cut across the boundary line

2) They cannot reduce the height under any circumstances

3) they are free to follow all the requirements of making a complaint under the High Hedge Law and you are quite will ing to attend the required Mediation

and i would now state that you are quite willing to trim back their side twice a year

This should scupper any claims from them that you are unfair or unreasonable
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Postby sharman24 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:17 pm

thanks for reply, very helpful.
in regards to hedge height on the other side as the gardens slope i would estimate it is at the boundary another foot ontop. this would take it to approx 13 foot by my guess.
even so being that it is at least 40 feet from the house it does not, i beleive, cause any problem.
our problem is now waiting for it to grow so we can trim it into a much more pleasent feature, not the mess he has left with holes in it and the ragged top.
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Postby despair » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:43 pm

If you get the Police to charge him with Criminal Damage you can file a claim for replacement MATURE plants thet will really hit his pockets

At 13ft high it is highly unlikely indeed that it could come under the HH Law

So throw the book at him
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Postby appledore » Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:37 pm

Privet is classed as semi evergreen or deciduous so I don't think it would come under the HH law. It's very hardy, so will probably grow back quickly.
Keep calm and carry on.
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Postby sharman24 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:53 pm

i would like to thank all of you here for the advice. it has been very helpful and imformative.
i have not yet heard back from police, but i am going to reply to their letter in the manner of quite wiling, if they so wish, to attend any mediation that they may feel is necessary, if the course of action through the HH Act is what they really want to do, which i believe will be a costly venture for them.

my attitude is i am not breaking any law, i have been very reasonable through out.

but i will remind them never cut over my boundary, damage or top my hedge again.
so, if anything further delevops i will of course relay this to the forum.
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Postby WILL*REMAIN*STRONG » Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:47 pm

sharman24 wrote:my attitude is i am not breaking any law, i have been very reasonable through out.

but i will remind them never cut over my boundary, damage or top my hedge again.
so, if anything further delevops i will of course relay this to the forum.


Do that because as far as I can tell, your neighbour does as he/she wishes without thought to you and your property. Nipping these situations in the bud sooner rather than later are best.

I wish you luck and hope this neighbour can begin to respect property not belonging to them.
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Re: neighbour cut top of my hedge without asking.

Postby Sudynim » Sat Jun 19, 2010 2:35 pm

sharman24 wrote: he has not cut off the top but has leaned over the boundary by about 3-4 feet and had made the whole hedge very unstable, and seems to of cut into the hedge about 4 feet down rather than slope the cut.


The problem you're going to have is defining the exact boundary line, especially if it's buried somewhere in the middle of a large hedge. The neighbour probably believes he has lawfully cut back to the boundary line (otherwise why did he stop at that particular point?) and whilst he may be wrong it's hard to prove that it wasn't an honestly-held belief.

I would be *very* surprised if the Police deal with this on a criminal basis, unless there is some objective evidence of the correct boundary line (eg not just various opinions and low-scale deed plans being waved about).
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Postby sharman24 » Sat Jun 19, 2010 3:35 pm

i totally understand what you say.
Our boundary is quite clear, and it has been an easy task to verify the hedge is planted on our land. i judge there is no more than a foot that had grown outwards into there area, luckly we have deeds that are quite clear to the boundary measurements.

in question to proof, we have always taken pictures and video of our garden.
since the incident of last year, where by there was a significant amount of hedge toppings over our deck and summer house, our pictures have proved beyond doubt, even with the police, that the topping and cutting over the boundary was carried out. we hold clear pictures that the top was reduced by at least 2-3 foot.

more to the point, we requested last year that no more cutting over the boundary or topping the hedge was to be carried out.
Was this an honest belief, well i am inclined to beleive it is not.
the hedge has been there longer than they have lived in the property, but in 20 odd years has never been a issue until we allowed a further 3 foot to grow to regain some privacy since the roof dormer was installed, a few years ago.

in fact our pictures show that he made considerable effort to reach over the boundary, approx 2-3 feet, as he reduced his side to bare sticks, which was for him a complete eyesore. i would much rather look at a nice green hedge than a row of ragged, chopped sticks.

unfortunalty the attitude of cut first then complain will make his right to seek any such further action difficult.


i would rather not have to deal with this, but i fear that they may end up causing more problems for themselves. the road of HH law as i have read in this area is a very expensive one, and by my judgement of the application criteara it is highly lightly that the application would not be permitted.

if by some fact it was actioned, then i am afraid it will affect many people along the boundaries as this hedge is one of the lowest.
we live in a rual area, lots of trees, hedges, etc all around the house here and many in neighbours gardens.

but am in favour of any such actions, as this will clear the issue and define the permitted actions for the future.

from a personal point of view i am disapointed that they have not made any recent efforts to come and speak about this.
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