Trees are an essential and usually pleasant part of an urban environment. They provide fresh air and shade and create a more pleasant environment to live in. But they can also create strife when a neighbour’s tree interferes with your enjoyment of your property, or even puts you at risk.
With this guide in hand, you should be able to get the problem resolved without too much love lost between you and your neighbours – and be prepared for the worst if they turn out to be less than neighbourly.
Step 1: Talk to Your Neighbours
If your neighbour’s tree has overhanging branches or intrusive roots, your first step should always be to approach them as a friendly neighbour and try to resolve things then and there.
Explain why the tree is causing you problems and hopefully, they’ll be happy to have it pruned back. It’s also fair, not to mention diplomatic, to offer to help with the cost of an arborist. If they refuse, you could offer to arrange the work yourself but if that fails you’ll need to go to step two.
Step 2: Get a Second Opinion
If your neighbour is deaf to your appeals, it’s a good idea to bring in a professional to assess the problem. They can help determine if your grievance is legitimate and whether the tree is genuinely a nuisance – or even dangerous.
If it turns out the tree isn’t really a problem, you may just have to live with it or hope your neighbour softens. But if there is a legitimate problem, an arborist’s report saying so may be enough to change your neighbour’s mind. If not, it will still be important as you move on to step three.
Step 3: Go Over Their Head
If your neighbour is unswayed by an expert opinion, it’s time to go to the council. Armed with your arborist’s report, you can appeal to the council for permission to prune or even remove a neighbour’s tree. Be aware that a tree protection order (TPO) will likely be in place, depending on the species of tree. Just going ahead and hacking your neighbour’s tree will not only cause problems between you, it will also land you in hot water with the authorities. Your local council will likely give you permission if you can show that:
- The tree is dead, damaged, about to fall, or set to cause some other immediate damage.
- There are problems with roots blocking pipes.
- The tree is threatening a building or structure.
- Branches are threatening roof tiles or other damage.
- Overhanging branches are causing a serious nuisance.
Worst Case Scenario
Even if the council agrees there is a problem, you may still run into issues. If the problem is a matter of nuisance rather than immediate danger, and if the TPO in question requires you to get permission from your neighbour, you could end up back at square one.
Luckily, the ‘Trees Act’ of 2006 provides a way out. If you are truly at a deadlock with your neighbour, you can take your case to the Land and Environment Court. If you are successful there, your neighbour will be ordered to have the work carried out or to face a large fine.
If you live in the Newcastle region, trust the professionals at JK Cooper Tree Services to assess your problem tree. Most of the time, all it will take is an expert opinion to get a neighbour’s troublesome tree removed.