Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby unclefester » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:45 am

Good morning GardenLawBoardfolk :)

I'll try and keep this relatively waffle free as it's a complicated ongoing issue.

30 years ago my partners mums neighbours planted Leilandii on their side of their property wall at spaces of about 2 feet. After about 15 years they had grown to the point where their roots were affecting the structure of the then detached double garage. Solicitors and insurers got involved and they were asked ( and complied ) to remove the first 5 trees. They were also advised to top of the other trees to prevent further problems later ( did not comply with). T he neighbour to their other side had similar problems with them when they removed the trees from their booundary ( not our neighbours trees) with complaints about too much light coming in, lack of privacy etc.

Fast forward 30 years and we've inherited the house, the neighbours AND the trees. They are now some 50ft high with an overhang of almost 15ft over our driveway. Their 2m high boundary wall is now falling towards our drive, the capping stones are almost halfway off the wall forced by the trees. Picture attached shows the height / width of the issue. My partners mum had her gardener trim them back as high as he could reach a few years ago but even that is now a 3ft overhang. That half visible builders rubble bag is sat against the boundary wall and is a 1m x 1m bag to give you an idea of scale. Their falling debris blocks drains and gutters. The lack of light causes heavy moss and damp. It also blocks most of the sun to that side of the house so the rooms on that side are not as bright / warm as they could be.

We have attempted to open discussion with them about it to no avail. They say they are getting quotes for removal but never do for the last 18 months or so.

So we got a quote from a local tree surgeon and it was surprisingly good - we let the neighbours know by phone call that as it was such a good price, we would be prepared to pay half of the cost of felling and removing the trees. Initially this was gladly accepted. We both agree that the problem is only going to get worse and is not going to go away, must be dealt with, now is the time yadda yadda.

However then the questions started.

1. What are you going to do about insuring the wall from damage?
2. We don't want to be named as joint clients. We want you to be the sole client.
3. Any damage to their ( or ours) lawn / property ( although this is covered by the Tree Surgeons liability insurance)

The wall is in such a poor state that it's going to collapse no matter what happens. The tree surgeon is not prepared to cover damage to it as part of the job and we are certainly not going to cover it. If they were reasonable, i'd cheerfully give them a hand with labour to rebuild it after it falls ..... but as it's theirs, i am not paying money towards it. Our insurance will not cover it and nor i suspect will theirs.

I don't know why they want us to be the sole clients other than that they are hoping to either a: avoid paying their half of the cost or b: it's some kind of negligence opportunity on their behalf to sue us for the eventual collapse of the wall. I know from doing a bit of searching that there is a current IVA in place which might go some way to explaining this. Equally that also gives me some idea about how likely I would ever be to see any monies towards the cost of the job.

We really don't know where we stand with this. We can't shave the trees on our side as we'll be left with a 50ft wall of dead brown that will still drop r ubbish over the drive and the cars. We can't go ahead with any kind of removal without their written permission although we are prepared to swallow the whole cost of the job but not if they are going to then come back with some crazy claim for a new boundary wall.

So my feeling is that we get an independent surveyors report on the wall before anything is done. And if / when that stalls proceedings because we reachg stalemate we then submit a nuisance hedge claim to the council and sit back and wait for that to progress knowing full well that it could take 2 years to complete with no guarantee of success. If the wall then falls down in the meantime, we can then tackle him about that separately.

I think our options with the trees are:

1. Shave our side only and put up with the ugly brown mess that will remain and if the wall falls ... it's his problem.
2. Cut the trees down to wall height leaving enough green on their side to keep the remaining stumps alive and let that support the wall for as long as it can.
3. Full removal down to stump of the trees and see what happens to the wall.

My final statement to the neighbour will be that if we cannot agree to option 2 or 3 without ridiculous clauses that i will submit the nuisance hedge claim to the council and withdraw all and any future offer of financial help to do with removal of the trees and / or any help with the wall.

Does anyone have any input / guidance / painful experience that they can throw at this?
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby arborlad » Sat Mar 11, 2017 3:45 pm

unclefester wrote:Their 2m high boundary wall is now falling towards our drive, the capping stones are almost halfway off the wall forced by the trees. Picture attached shows the height / width of the issue.




Any chance of a photo of the wall, is ownership uncontested?
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby unclefester » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:53 pm

Dark now .... It's not falling down as such - but you can see it's not in a good structural state. It might last another few years or if it settles back once the trees go it might be fine for longer. It also has ivy from their side growing through and under it which is probably doing more damage. Ownership is not contested
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby despair » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:12 pm

sadly i doubt that a high hedge complaint would succeed since the trees are not precluding light to habitable rooms unless theres some behind the garage we cant see
in the photo

If they were required in a law case to top the remaining trees can you not get them on that clause

i suspect that if you have all the foliage chopped off back to the trunks/boundary which legally you could do the trees could by sheer weight on their side fall onto the neighbours land or house and of course they will try to blame you and the wall will go too

Have to wonder what joy they gain from being so b awful and difficult but if theres an IVA in place and they have a mortgage too maybe playing a waiting game
for interest rates to rise and leave them forced to sell would be best move

maybe being devious and finding out more about their real financial state would be enlightening
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby unclefester » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:48 pm

What i cant get my head around is why they are so hung up on us being the client for the tree company. They'll only agree if we do it that way. I could care less about the money - it's what they think us being the client will allow them to try and claim something off us that concerns me.
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby despair » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:59 pm

i would be very very careful they sound totally mad and spoiling for a fight
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby MacadamB53 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:19 pm

unclefester wrote:What i cant get my head around is why they are so hung up on us being the client for the tree company. They'll only agree if we do it that way.


their hands being tied by the IVA perhaps? eg they must run all their financial affairs past their Insolvency Practitioner who might (rightly) veto it (or who might be unaware they have funds available...).

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby unclefester » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:48 pm

Mac - i suspect it's this. May not even have a bank account. Is the consensus that as long as i have written permission to remove the trees and written permission for access I'm ok? The tree firm are insured etc and are also a local council approved firm.

No insurer is going to cover the wall. Do i just go ahead and deal with that later if needs be - trees can't be put back up :)
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby despair » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:53 pm

if its because of the IVA and your willing to pay to have the tree removed and even rebuild the wall

would they be willing to sign and agree a written agreement for the trees to be removed and accept that the condition of the wall
is such that it may need to be replaced and in which case they will lend a hand to clear the site
the agreement needs to clearly state they will not hold you liable for the walls demise
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby arborlad » Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:38 am

unclefester wrote:So we got a quote from a local tree surgeon and it was surprisingly good -





I think it would be wise to get at least one more quote for this work.
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby unclefester » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:11 am

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They've had two quotes from other firms already - both of which were significantly higher than the one we got. I'm happy with the quote, the company and I've seen two other jobs they've done. Neighbour and I are both happy about the price. From reading this out on here (thanks folks) i think the way forward is to get written permission for access, written permission for removal, an official job sheet signed off and get it in writing that the wall is excluded from liability cover. IIRC it's £750 + VAT to drop them and remove all the debris / clean up the site. To just shave our side would be £400 + VAT. It's a no brainer to do the full job. A high reach lift hire would be £300 for a weekend and you need training, a scaffolding tower is £225 and you have to erect it AND use a chainsaw - neither appeals.

I will also ensure that the job sheet notes that temporary damage to grass on their side whilst the several tonnes of trees are dropped and removed is possible - this kind of thing i am happy to leave in the hands of the tree company, they will be well used to this and this kind of damage and other property damage is what their liability cover is for, using a professional reduces that risk considerably. What i want and must protect the tree company from is being dragged into any pre-existing or ongoing neighbour dispute - that's not their problem. It is also the reason i am happy to pay the tree company in full. If i have to take the neighbour to small claims court for their half of the money, it's only £50 and in all honesty, given the issues my partners mum had with these people over the years, i would consider the whole thing money well spent in her name even if we never see a penny from them. The extra light this will bring to our offices that sit on this side of the property will be very welcome.

There is going to be no ongoing relationship and no historical good relationship to sour. It's a shame as we get on really well with the other people who live here, they also get on well with each other - it's just this neighbour who is the odd one out - universally disliked apparently.

Life is too short to be dragged down by stuff like this .... you have to have a clear end game in mind and accept that sometimes you'll be the one that foots the bill, it's only money. If i count up the hours i'll not have to spend jet washing moss off the drive and paths / using the leaf blower to clear debris off the drive / ability to work on the cars without getting covered in that brown leilandii crap then the cost really is irrelevant.
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby unclefester » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:24 am

Last couple of pictures. I've already killed off the ivy that had grown on our side and repointed the capping stones in 4 more places where it had come loose due to ivy growth.
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby despair » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:31 am

clearly the quote is simply cutting the trees at just above ground level
the stumps are not being ground out
the wall wont repair itself
but as for the nonsense of grass being damaged the neighbours need to wake up

the mere prescence of those monsters will have prevented grass growing near them for decades
once the trees are cut down and the lawn raked and cleared of fir tree debris it will grow like mad

you need to be sure these neighbours realise and put in writing they will be looking at a line of stumps and a brick wall that could fall
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby unclefester » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:47 am

Good points - agreed. If i was them, i'd grind the stumps out and use them as flower pots or put large upturned flowerpots over them and sit another pot on top or create a fake rockery around them. Not my garden and not my problem. You should see how deep the piles of leaves and crud are on their side against the wall hidden by the trees :lol: Again, the tree company won't be dealing with that - just what they have cut down.

The wall is not single brick thickness, it's triple thickness bricks and has a good foundation so it *might* be ok but as you say, once the support from the trees is removed and the roots start to die off, who knows.

With regard to the IVA, it was put in place in 2012 so by my reckoning is due for expiry in 2017 ( this year assuming they are a 5 year thing ) so i think they will sell up as soon as they can .... it's clear the rest of the garden is in the same state as the bit we are forced to look at and the damp caused by the lack of light has made a right mess of the woodwork on the house.
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Re: Problem with Leilandii / wall / neighbours

Postby despair » Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:07 pm

I know all about the piles of crud that builds up under conifers
and the kind of neighbours for whom its out of sight out of mind

totally sick of the sight of it
I wish you luck with your quest and sure hope the neighbours do sell up and go
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