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Who is Responsible for Cutting an Overhanging Tree in the UK? [Understanding the Legalities and Your Rights]

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Who is Responsible for Cutting an Overhanging Tree in the UK? [Understanding the Legalities and Your Rights]

An overhanging tree can not only be a nuisance and a disruption, but in some cases, they can even damage an individual’s property if not dealt with.

So who is responsible for cutting back an overhanging tree in the UK? Here’s everything you need to know regarding cutting back an overhanging tree, ensuring you know your legalities, and who you should consult if you need to scale back an unruly tree…

It should really go without saying that trees are beautiful, majestic, and life-giving – integral to our natural environment and the overall character of our country’s landscapes.

But trees come with responsibilities, especially when property and individual rights are concerned.

One of the issues which About Trees Ltd deals with frequently is that of overhanging trees – and who is responsible when a part of a tree extends or hangs over one person’s property and encroaches onto another’s.

Trees must be properly maintained, and the law is very clear on what can be done to ensure trees are managed in the right way so that property, personal and environmental rights are all respected.

Below, we’ll answer the question commonly asked of us: “Who is responsible for cutting an overhanging tree?”

Firstly, what are the legalities around cutting overhanging trees in the UK?

Let’s start off with the straightforward stuff. Under UK law, you are entitled to trim or cut any overhanging branches from your neighbour’s tree, up to the boundary of your property. This is known in UK law as the “right to abate a nuisance.” The main legal requirement is that, if you choose to cut from an overhanging tree, you must not trespass onto your neighbour’s property to do so. Other than that, you’re well within your rights to cut from a tree which is encroaching on your property.

The main caveat is that certain trees or areas are protected under specific laws in the UK. For example, if a tree is located in a Conservation Area or has a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), it has additional protections. Failure to comply with the protected status of these trees can result in penalties, including fines and legal action.

It is recommended that you check with your local council or a professional tree surgeon, like About Trees, to ensure you are always following the law when dealing with overhanging trees.

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So, can I cut off a part of an overhanging tree that is on my property?

As stated, if branches from a neighbouring tree are overhanging onto your property, you have the right to trim back the branches to the property boundary. However, you must do this entirely within your own property. Additionally, UK law has a somewhat strange additional requirement: any arisings (meaning the cuttings from the overhanging tree), must be offered back to the tree owner. This is a legal obligation.

Finally, it should be noted that when it comes to things like fallen leaves, fruits, or debris, you cannot legally force your neighbour to remove these natural falling occurrences or prevent them from happening – even if they’re on your property.

You might not like them, but in the same way as you also might not like birds doing their business on your patio furniture, there’s only so much that the law can deal with!

Who is actually responsible for cutting an overhanging tree?

By now, you’re likely to have a firm understanding of your legal position when it comes to cutting an overhanging tree, but you might still have questions about who is actually responsible for managing this.

For example, say an overhanging tree is getting so unwieldy that it causes disruption or damage to your property – or if you think managing this intrusion would be too costly to deal with. You might ask, should your neighbour not bear some responsibility for removing it, even if it’s on your property?

These situations are actually quite common, and the most honest answer is that each situation requires dedicated communication between the tree owner and the property owner, otherwise they can become a legal dispute. Every situation involving an overhanging tree will be different from the next, meaning there cannot ever be a single, simple answer.

If you are unsure about your responsibility or your neighbour’s responsibility when it comes to an overhanging tree, consulting a professional tree care expert like About Trees can provide you with the advice and guidance you need – as well as help you to avoid a potentially costly legal battle.

I want to consult a professional service about an overhanging tree. How should I go about this?

If you want information about an overhanging tree, or if you want a specific tree dealt with, you can always seek advice from professionals who understand the complexities of tree management.

About Trees Ltd is a reputable tree surgeon and tree care specialist in Kent, focused on the management of all things trees. Our team of experts can provide you with the guidance and assistance you need to deal with overhanging trees effectively.

If you want to discuss how we can help you then please get in touch.

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