Tree roots will grow where the soil conditions allow. They are capable of growing across boundaries (underneath fences and even built structures such as walls). Much of the time they do not cause problems and residents are not even aware that they are growing within their property.
In less common cases where roots are causing damage to structures, evidence needs to be obtained which will eventually need to be presented to the tree-owner.
If you believe that your property is experiencing structural damage because of a tree (eg to house foundations, outbuildings, walls, drains and sewers, pathways, fence structure etc.), it is important that in the first instance you contact your home insurance provider. They will look into your concerns and may want to investigate the damage as part of a claim.
Under Common Law you are entitled to prune back the branches or roots that cross your boundary from neighbouring property, only to the boundary line but not beyond (that would be ‘trespass & damage’).
The tree may be protected and you would have to get council permission first. To find out if the tree is protected and to make an application please read our tree preservation order guide.
In the case of a public highway, to make sure that the pavements are maintained in a safe condition, all public 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. In such cases you can send us a report online.