Trees - common enquiries
My neighbour's trees (including council trees) encroach over my boundary - can I cut them back?
If you are concerned about trees overhanging your boundary you are able to exercise your ‘Common Law’ right to maintain your boundary. Under Common Law you are entitled to prune back the branches or roots that grow over your boundary from neighbouring property, only to the boundary line but not beyond (that would be ‘trespass & damage’).
You are required to offer these branches/roots back to the owner, who has no obligation to accept them (in the majority of cases the owner will not accept them). If that's the case it's your responsibility to dispose of the pruned branches/roots responsibly - you are not entitled to deposit them on the tree owner's land without their permission (this would be regarded as ‘fly-tipping’). Residents can dispose of this sort of waste at the Longshot Lane Household Waste Recycling Centre.
However, if the overhanging tree is protected under planning law, you will require the council’s written consent before you carry out any work. Examples of this are where the tree has a tree preservation order or is within a conservation area (pruning or removing such trees without permission is an offence in law).
You can check the status of a tree by searching our online map.
If you prefer, you can get a simple yes/no response from us to confirm whether a tree is protected by a TPO. You can do this by completing our protected tree online enquiry form.
My neighbour’s trees (including council trees) are blocking my light and shading my property- what can I do?
Technically the tree owner only has a duty to ensure their trees are safe and there is no legal restriction on height that trees can grow to. If you have concerns regarding a tree ask the owner how they intend to maintain it and explain your concerns. You may also be able to cut the overhanging branches back to the boundary yourself (see Common Law above) but you cannot prune the tree’s height without the owners express permission. Before either you or the tree owner undertakes works to the trees it is important to check if they are protected by a tree preservation order, or located within a conservation area.
My neighbour’s trees (including council trees) are shading my property so badly they affect my quality of life
The tree owner is not required or obliged in respect of any law to prune the tree for the benefit of his/her neighbour’s level of light. The only exception might be under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act where the trees are assessed and shown to fall within the definition of a ‘high-hedge’. If you believe this to be the case, please contact our Environmental Health Team. For further information please visit GOV.UK.
What action do I take if I suspect that trees are causing subsidence to my property?
It is important that you contact your home insurance provider, who will look into your concerns and may want to investigate the damage as part of a claim.
If your insurance provider believes that your neighbour's trees (including council trees) are implicated in the damage, they will contact the respective tree owner on your behalf.
The tree is affecting my television and satellite reception
There is no legal right to television reception. Pruning trees is unlikely to provide an adequate solution to signal interference. There is also no basis in law or policy for the expectation for the council to mitigate the problem. Advice is available at:
Birds roosting in the trees outside my house are creating a mess on my property
This is not recognised as a legal nuisance and the inconvenience it may cause is not sufficient justification to remove or disfigure the tree. Unfortunately, pruning the tree is not the solution either, as the birds will simply roost on the remaining branches.
The tree outside my house is dropping leaves/fruit/cones on my property
There is little the council can do as this is a natural process and not one the British legal system recognises as a ‘legal nuisance’. Please contact us.Similarly, there is nothing we can do to alleviate the symptoms and effects of pollen on residents. Please see NHS advice relating to hay fever for more information.
Tree roots are growing through the pavement - who do I report this to?
To make sure that the pavements are maintained in a safe condition, all footpaths throughout the borough are inspected regularly and assessments are made about their condition. Any safety defects identified are then included in a programme for repair.
You can send us a report online using our condition of road online report form. Alternatively, please contact Customer Services.