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Whether they bear fruit, blossom with picturesque colours, or just provide shade on those hot summers days, trees can be a great feature to have within your garden. However, if not properly dealt with, they can be a nuisance to your next door neighbour with they start encroaching over into their garden, or vice versa. This can lead to problems such as attracting insects like bees and wasps, blocking out your light, and unwanted tree debris dropping into your garden. It is important to know what you can and can't do in these situations, therefore we are going to answer some common questions:
The tree belongs to whoever owns the land that it was originally planted on. Whether it's branches, or even roots, have grown into your territory, it still belongs to the landowner where the tree was planted originally. It is, therefore, an offence under the Theft Act 1968 to keep any branches, flowers, or fruit etc, that you were to remove from their tree.
Most neighbours probably won't mind too much, however, if they were unhappy with you collecting fruit, for example, from their tree, they are legally entitled to ask you to return them.
If a neighbours tree has started to grow over into your territory, you are allowed to cut them back to the boundary point between the two properties, with the exception being if the tree is under preservation order, therefore it is always best to check with your neighbour before cutting anything.
If the branches/leaves/fruit naturally fall into your garden, you have no right to ask them to come round and collect them, however, if their tree is causing significant damage to something like your gutters, for example, you can ask your neighbour to pay for any damage expenses. If they refuse, you can legally sue them and force them into paying.
You are not entitled to enter the tree owners property the remove any branches. You can be prosecuted for trespassing for attempting this.
You have the right to dig up and remove any roots that have entered your land. Tree roots can cause significant damage if they are left to spread, therefore, if they are large, deep roots, you may need to get a tree surgeon in to deal with the situation.
If it does come down to an expert having to be called in, it is the tree owner's responsibility to pay the bill, so it is always best to discuss with the owner first. They can either pay upfront or by claiming on their own home insurance policy.