Q: My neighbours have allowed several trees to grow to such a height in their garden that I am worried a strong wind may blow them over and damage my property. I have tried to discuss the problem with my neighbours but they have refused to reduce the height of the trees. What can I do to resolve the issue?
A: By attempting to discuss the problem with your neighbour you have made the correct first step. The Trees and High Hedges Act 2005 provides the legislation to deal with such issues. It applies where the “reasonable enjoyment” of part of a property, including the garden, is being negatively affected by a tree or high hedge situated on neighbouring land.
The Act defines a high hedge or tree as being two or more trees or shrubs over two metres high above ground level and which act as a barrier to light. The Act expects you to discuss the problem with your neighbour in an attempt to resolve the issue, but if this fails you should write a more formal letter setting out your grievance and a time limit to resolve the issue before you take further steps.
The Department of Local Government & the Environment are unlikely to proceed with a complaint if a person has not taken all reasonable steps to resolve the matter with their neighbour. When deciding whether to proceed with a complaint the Department of Local Government & the Environment will take into account several different factors. A remedial notice may be served upon your neighbour and will lay out what steps need to be taken. Failure to comply with this notice may result in your neighbour being prosecuted and facing a fine of up to £5,000. Your solicitor can advise you about the merits of any claim you have.