Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby sittingonfence » Sun May 31, 2015 11:42 pm

Hi All

Desperately need some help with the well known problem of leylendii on the boundary with our neighbours. This has been discussed many times here but as each case and circumstances are unique, I would try to provide details to help understand the problem and enable the forum members to suggest appropriate course of action.

We moved into this property 3 years ago - last half of our right side boundary, between our and next door’s garden, has about 4- 5 metre high conifers (about 20-25 of them). These used to be about 10 metres when our builder cut them down to about 3 metres -before we moved in. This didn’t go down well with the neighbours and left ugly looking stumps on the boundary, which have now started to grow again. Front half of this boundary, next to the built up areas, is made of a retaining/boundary wall about 3 feet in height. We want conifers gone or to be trimmed at 2 meters, but our neighbours want to keep them and let these grow to heights…may be in the interest of restoring their garden privacy from our upstairs room. I am certain that talking to them is not going to be easy and we are not likely to reach an agreement. I am still going to try and make them see the problem from our perspective.

Our neighbours have a fence on their side of these conifers, but have made suggestions that their fence is not the boundary and that we have no right to remove/reduce height of conifers. We have also put a fence on our side of conifers, but these have started to grow way beyond the fences since last year and are now blocking the sunlight to our patio and garden.

No concrete posts or any other boundary markers on the boundary which the conifers are straddling
However -
a) My architect/solicitor has confirmed that boundary line can be deemed as continuation of the external face of retaining wall at the front.
b) There is a garden fence post right where the conifers end.
c) If the external face of my retaining wall at the front half of the boundary was to be aligned with the fence post at the other end, then the conifers are sitting on that boundary line. Some trunks on my side of this line and a few growing up with trunks slightly on their side of this line.
d) Property deeds mention that we “own or accept responsibility” for boundary in question. Also validated by “T” marks on that boundary on land registry plan.

I would like to know
Am I well with in my rights to cut these/ reduce height as they sit on the boundary whose responsibility lies with me?
High hedges act ( to enforce them to reduce height) is applicable to hedges which are not on one’s property, so it may not be applicable?
what would be best course as the discussions with the neighbours are unlikely to reach any agreement.

Thanks and please accept my apologies for the long post.
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby Collaborate » Mon Jun 01, 2015 12:07 am

Where do the middle of the trees lie? I ask that, as we have a large holly tree (5m) in our rear garden which touches the fence. If it is allowed to continue to grow I expect over the coming years the trunk will cross the boundary. However it would remain our tree.
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby MacadamB53 » Mon Jun 01, 2015 12:10 am

Hi sittingonfence,

so you moved in to a new-build 3 years ago?

is the date of the conveyance which included the "own or accept responsibility" wording the same date as when you became owner?

if not (which I'm guessing may be the case) it has nothing to do with you - such covenants are personal and do not pass with the land.

even if it was it does not follow that you own the trees if the wording only refers to fences and/or walls (which is often the case).

the advice about drawing a line between the face of a wall and a fence post does sound reasonable, except that there may have been nothing standing between those two features when the trees were planted, which means the precise whereabouts of the boundary was undefined along that stretch (and the trees have now defined it...).

Kind regards, Mac
edit: just read your posting on another thread (not good form to ask questions for your own case on someone else's thread btw) and notice you mention "no mention of conifers specifically in the paperwork" - what does it mention?
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby jdfi » Mon Jun 01, 2015 5:43 am

sittingonfence wrote:Am I well with in my rights to cut these/ reduce height as they sit on the boundary whose responsibility lies with me?
High hedges act ( to enforce them to reduce height) is applicable to hedges which are not on one’s property, so it may not be applicable?
what would be best course as the discussions with the neighbours are unlikely to reach any agreement.

Thanks and please accept my apologies for the long post.


Probably not. However there are a number of people who would suggest 'just do it' if faced with this same problem.

One option could be to get a gypsy type contractor in who would be virtually untraceable.

If they have grown as much in three years then I can certainly see why you would want to chop first.

If they really are a mesne feature, then strictly speaking neither of you is supposed to cut without discussing with the other first.
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby sittingonfence » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:10 am

Thanks Mac and jdfi,
The property was built in 70s but we had lot of work done on it before moving in. The date on the conveyance is same as when we bought it and the wording doesnot mention any fences or walls. The leylendii are straddlng the line from our boundary wall to the fence post, so could be seen as the boundary.
I am not keen on doing something like getting a gypsy type contractor and would like to abide by the law on these matters. if the law permits them to keep these and allow them to grow, then fine. What about invoking the high hedges act, presuming they sit on the boundary and I dont have sole right over these?
Thanks
P.S Mac, sorry for posting on another thread as well..point noted.
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby MacadamB53 » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:54 am

Hi sittingonfence,

The property was built in 70s but we had lot of work done on it before moving in.

surely you're not saying you had 30-odd years' worth of work done?!?
so, I will assume you were not the first to own the property...

The date on the conveyance is same as when we bought it

if I've assumed right then the above makes no sense.
you're saying you are named on the conveyance that included a covenant to maintain the boundary features on a particular edge of the property being conveyed - if this were true you'd be the one person (other than the vendor) who could say with any certainty where the boundary was to be found since you were involved in the original transaction...

the wording does not mention any fences or walls.

what does it mention?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby sittingonfence » Mon Jun 01, 2015 2:14 pm

Hi Mac

Thanks for your reply. I must be wrongly calling the paperwork that I have as conveyance.
You rightly assumed - The property was built in 70s and I am not the first owner. We bought it about just over 3 years ago and had refurb work done before moving in 6 months later. The document I have referred to as conveyance is actually with the title and is headed "property information form" and this is dated for when we bought the house. This form says - we "own or accept the responsibity" of that side. It also mentions that "boundaries mean any fence, wall, hedge or ditch which mark the edge of the property"

When I said the wording doesnt mention walls or fence, I was meaning to say that in the rest of the document theres no mention what feature is on the boundary.

Hope I am making more sense now.

Thanks
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby Collaborate » Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:19 pm

The Property Information Form just tells you what your predecessors in title assumed the position to be. You would have to look at the Land Registry Office Copy Entries to see what the deeds actually state.
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby mr sheen » Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:28 pm

Whoever planted the trees, or their successors in title, owns them. If the trees were bought by and planted by your predecessors in title, then you can do what you want with them. If the neighbour or their predecessor in title did, they own them and you shouldn't touch them.

So you could try to find out who planted them or negotiate with the neighbours about what is acceptable to both parties.
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby sittingonfence » Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:21 pm

There's nothing in the title about the Leylendii hedge. Instead of arguing over boundary and ownership of leylendii hedge, would it not better to make these complaint with the high hedges act i.e 2 metres.
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby MacadamB53 » Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:46 pm

Hi sittingonfence,

make these complaint with the high hedges act i.e 2 metres

before your LA will take such a complaint you must:

1. evidence that you have exhausted all other avenues - starting with speaking to the neighbour.
2. pay a fee

your builders committing criminal damage on your behalf is not a good start...

they will only make a remedial notice ordering the neighbour to reduce the height of the hedge/trees if they have been convinced one is required to allow you to reasonably enjoy your property.

in what way are the trees affecting your enjoyment of your property?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby sittingonfence » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:23 pm

Hi Mac
As you rightly say, our LA would require us to provide evidence of having tried negotiations followed by mediation and only then consider the complaint with appropriate fee.

Our builder had cut the height only after speaking with my architect and the solicitor, hence thinking that this was within our right -and it may well be the case. After all the neighbours never categorically mentioned that the conifers belong to them or they have right over them in their title or deed (the relevant papers). I can at least demonstrate that these make physical boundary between two gardens and also that I am responsible/own that boundary.

Our issues - Mainly these are blocking the sunlight and our patio doesn't get any sunlight at all, they are too close to our building ( roots may also eventually cause damage) and they look horrible sticking out from our side. These issues are only going to get worse if we don't address them now.

Regards.
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby mr sheen » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:32 pm

By making a high hedge complaint you effectively admit that the neighbours own the conifers since you can't make a complaint against yourself since if you believe they belong to you, you would deal with them without reference to the council.
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby sittingonfence » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:41 pm

Exactly! This is the reason why I am seeking advice and guidance - to clarify the ownership before deciding whether to handle it myself or to ask the council. I believe neither of us have any direct evidence of who planted these as boundary. Though, as mentioned earlier, I can demonstrate that the leylendii hedge makes the boundary which I own or have responsibility for.
Appreciate all the replies.
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Re: Can I cut the conifers on our boundary?

Postby MacadamB53 » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:51 pm

Hi sittingonfence,

I can at least demonstrate that... ...I am responsible/own that boundary

no you can't - you can demonstrate that the guy who sold you the property told you as much because that is what he thought, which is not the same thing at all.

these are blocking the sunlight and our patio doesn't get any sunlight at all

no sunlight whatsoever? even if the patio is completely in shadow it is not without sunlight.

they are too close to our building

irrelevant (and wrong)

(roots may also eventually cause damage)

postulating about what might happen at some unknown point in the future is irrelevant - and the legislation specifically excludes damage caused by roots being a valid reason to issue a remedial notice.

they look horrible sticking out from our side

irrelevant - and you have a common law right to cut them back to the boundary (the trunks) wherever they overhang your land.

these issues are only going to get worse if we don't address them now.

you've only mentioned one issue which might be relevant, but if the patio is without sunlight now then how could it get worse?

Kind regards, Mac
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