Q: My rear garden backs onto a house owned by a housing association. The housing association has changed hands several times since the current tenant moved in. Just after she moved there, she planted a young sycamore tree close to my fence. The tree trunk is now almost 2ft in girth and is causing my fence to cave in. Also, there are large branches overhanging my garage.
I wrote to the housing association, but they say it is the tenant’s responsibility as it states in her lease that she cannot plant trees. They said I should speak to her about cutting it down. I did this but she said she cannot afford to have it taken down. What can I do?
A: It would seem the housing association is shirking its responsibility. The tenancy agreement is between the housing association and its tenant, irrespective of whether the housing association has changed hands during the time the tenant has lived there. You are not party to the tenancy agreement and therefore it is not your responsibility to sort out the tree problem with the tenant.
Clearly it is a problem though, both in terms of damage already caused and the potential threat of further damage, if branches break off in the adverse weather conditions this country has experienced in recent times. In the first instance you could obtain two or three estimates for the removal of the tree and send them to the housing association with a formal letter outlining the problem and the tenants’ reasons for refusing to co-operate, and pointing out their own responsibilities.
Request agreement within 14 days that they will undertake the work and tell them that if they do not provide a satisfactory response you will have the work carried out yourself and seek to recover costs from them through the small claims court. If necessary, you can ask a solicitor to write the letter and add those costs to your claim against them.
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