View Full Version : Boundary Dispute - Help!

10th Aug 2010, 13:55
I have a neighbour who has taken to sweeping up leaves, that fall from a tree in my garden, and throwing them over my fence for me to clean up and dispose of. Any one know the legal positions that may be relevant? I do stres it is leaves that fall in the normal course of things and not branches that have been removed.

10th Aug 2010, 13:58
I would suggest that your neighbour is within his legal rights (http://www.problemneighbours.co.uk/rights-trees-and-overhanging-branches.html). In fact, they cannot lawfully dispose of (ie consume or burn) materials that fall from your tree - they must return them to you or deposit them on your property (land).

Maybe you should approach him and offer to have the overhanging branches pruned?


10th Aug 2010, 14:02
We have a neighbour whose trees overhang two gardens, including mine. On any windy day, we end up with six inches of leaf litter. It's them who are the bad neighbour. Very little sympathy I'm afraid.

10th Aug 2010, 14:21
Yep he is legally right to throw them back . I negotiated a tree pruning deal with my neghbour he cut his Willow back to my fence line and I cut my conifer back to his fence line .

10th Aug 2010, 14:25
Why would anyone even think about asking this question? Pick 'em up, chuck in bin.

10th Aug 2010, 14:32
It's relative - if the quantity is large then disposal can be a burden to the 'recipient' who may need to involve charges from the local authority over and above the normal council tax.
The law dictates that anything that falls (such as fruit) remains the property of the tree owner and must be returned - this includes leaves . . .

10th Aug 2010, 14:43
I live in an tree-lined avenue (ooh, get her), and my front garden and driveway get heaps of leaves every autumn. Should I:
(a) sweep 'em up and shove 'em in the compost heap running the risk that tree owner (council) is entitled to them and might sue, or
(b) sweep 'em up, put them in bin liners and return them to the owners without benefit of postage stamps?

Just wondering.

10th Aug 2010, 14:45
Workinghard, I take it your neighbour is a bit of a tit and you don't get on?

Perhaps you should wait until the neighbours washing is out and then burn them?

10th Aug 2010, 14:52
I used to drive lorries for a local council 'Refuse and Cleansing' section. If a complaint was logged that leaves from trees in the street were collecting on someone's property, one of us would be sent out to clear it up and dispose of the leaves without any charge to the householder. The number of complaints of this type was so small that it took up very little of our time, I presume because most people just cleared them away themselves.

Not sure that a free clearance service would still be the case these days with private companies running the whole thing. You could try sweeping them all onto the pavement and then asking the council to collect.....

Gentleman Jim
10th Aug 2010, 16:33
Perhaps you should wait until the neighbours washing is out and then burn them?

Exactly. Seems hard bit fair.

10th Aug 2010, 16:49
I am not bothered by leaves but have the issue that I live by a bridle path and the trees (oaks and sycamores (?) - the biggies) growing alongside overhang my garden have taken over. They now block out any afternoon light during summer and totally shade that part of the garden so nothing seems to grow there except weeds and little oaks.

Dilemma is:

Council will cut back the other side of the bridle path but not my side as it belongs to farmer.

Farmer says I can do what I want but don't bother him with any bills.

I love trees and am a tree hugger but ...


10th Aug 2010, 16:49
I'm just SO relieved that none of you live near ME.
Bunch of Whingeing losers.
Pick the damn things up and add them to your COMPOST!!!

10th Aug 2010, 16:54

You're barking... up the wrong tree!:E

10th Aug 2010, 17:00

10th Aug 2010, 17:05

10th Aug 2010, 17:12
Just LOVE them!!!
Got a huge Sweet Chestnut tree about 50 yards away. Lovely!!!
Only problem is the Bl**dy squirrels love them as well.

10th Aug 2010, 17:16
The chest?...or...The nuts?:E

10th Aug 2010, 17:38
Perhaps if explained a little more for those who think one should be more "laid back" about such matters. The trees in question are covered by a TPO and cannot be pruned. The "disposal" over my boundary is MOSTLY debris from the trees but not entirely and it is not really for me to separate it and return. There is perfectly adequate garden refuse collection free of charge in our area and so that is not a problem either. In fact it would be easier to place the rubbish in the wheelie bin than heave it over a 2m high wall. So I am at a loss. Never had any dispute with neighbours, in fact they were 2 old people (not related) whom we did bits and pieces for but now daughter has moved in it all seems to be a little fraught for no reason that we can determine. I have tried the usual friendly neighbour approach of course and whilst the owner (old lady) said it was not the thing to do, it has recurred in quantity today.

10th Aug 2010, 17:46
I am always mindful of karma!:ok: I do like the buddhist approach and am a Zen at heart.

Leaves fall
where no green earth remains:
a person at his ease,
wears a plain, white robe.

With simplicity and plainness
his original nature still,
what need to practice
"calming of the heart."


Loose rivets
10th Aug 2010, 17:50
Throw em back when they're not looking:E

10th Aug 2010, 18:13
Hardly worth the effort, Looserivets. Life's too short and all that...:E

Get a life springs to mind.;)

Ancient Observer
10th Aug 2010, 18:15
You can trim TPO-protected trees. You just need permission from the right part of the council.

10th Aug 2010, 18:16
How much do tree surgeons cost per hour?

Big trees lining big property....and all that....!:confused:

10th Aug 2010, 18:20

If it affects your dwelling or any other building, you have an absolute right to light under Section 3 of the Prescription Act 1832 (http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/legResults.aspx?LegType=All+Legislation&title=prescription&Year=1832&searchEnacted=0&extentMatchOnly=0&confersPower=0&blanketAmendment=0&TYPE=QS&NavFrom=0&activeTextDocId=1030774&PageNumber=1&SortAlpha=0)

3. When the access and use of light to and for any dwelling house, workshop, or other building shall have been actually enjoyed therewith for the full period of twenty years without interruption, the right thereto shall be deemed absolute and indefeasible, any local usage or custom to the contrary notwithstanding, unless it shall appear that the same was enjoyed by some consent or agreement expressly made or given for that purpose by deed or writing.

10th Aug 2010, 18:27
Thanks, Hobo. Is it me? I don't really understand that.:}

I do wonder though...how the Council can say they are responsible for cutting back the other side of the bridle path which lies alongside the farmer's fields but not the residential side?:confused:

Makes me want to live in a council house this does.:ok:

wings folded
10th Aug 2010, 18:44
In the spring, buy a pot of white paint.

Paint each leaf on your neighbour's trees with, shall we say, a squiggle symbol, and each leaf on your trees with a square symbol.

In the autumn, rake all the leaves in your garden into a tidy heap.

Start sorting. Squiggles one side, squares t' other side.

By mid March you will have to stop sorting because it will be time to paint the new leaves, but you should have a good heap to donate back to your neighbour, and if you enclose a print out of useful tips on how to compost leaves, he will be eternally grateful.

Except that your paint identifiers will inhibit decent composting.

Or you could just recognise that a falling leaf has only a slight awareness of property boundaries and will tend to fall wherever the wind takes it.

Option two is to move to the centre of Hong Kong

10th Aug 2010, 18:46
My Cantonese is good and I have a lot of wealthy friends in Honkers!:ok:

10th Aug 2010, 18:48
I think you need a prescription before you can prune your trees.

(If you live in a conservation area you will need permission before you can remove branches from any tree with a trunk size greater than (10?) inches diameter - unless it forms part of a hedge (!).

10th Aug 2010, 19:21
Sirikit, it means that if you have had the benefit of a certain amount of light to a building for 20 years, then you have acquired the right to it. If anyone interferes with that right, you can take them to court for interrupting it.

G-CPTN, I think it's 150mm diameter 1500mm above the ground....it's not anything like 10", as Mrs Hobo keeps telling me!

10th Aug 2010, 19:23

Xie xie! (Mandarin)

8 years and counting. Thank you for your time to explain.


10th Aug 2010, 19:29
I do some voluntary work concerned with countryside maintenance. I guarantee that every time we prune a tree or plant a tree someone has a hissy fit. The problem is not with the trees but with ourselves. We all hate each other, that's the point. On the subject of legal action, I once spoke to my solicitor on the subject of my neighbour reaching over our boundary to prune my plants. He said his neighbour did the same and there was nothing he could do about it.:)

10th Aug 2010, 20:00
On the subject of legal action, I once spoke to my solicitor on the subject of my neighbour reaching over our boundary to prune my plants.
How would you prove who dunnit?

10th Aug 2010, 20:24
I have badgers in my garden every night. Who cares?:ok:

Some people need to get a life!

james ozzie
10th Aug 2010, 21:08
In Australia it is apparently your legal right to toss leaves from overhanging branches back into your neighbours yard. I think it is an archaic law relating to your rights to fruit that drops off your tree into a neighbours yard. But in my experience, most modern Australians never do this (I had one jerk neighbour who did, an old codger immigrant, never-mind-from-where).

Pardon my preaching but it is unthinkably rude to toss a load of old leaves into a neighbours tidy yard, regardless of what the law says. After all, you get the benefits of the tree such as screening, shade and appearance, so why not accept the chores that go with it?

10th Aug 2010, 22:13
Did you consieder the screening may not be a benefit? In my case we lose all sunlight into our garden after midday. We get the leaves into the bargain. Your preaching is forgiven also.

10th Aug 2010, 22:28
Can't speak for others, but we've tried that twice. Nothing doing. The property is a children's nursey & they won't entertain spending the money nor letting us spend our money on their behalf.

10th Aug 2010, 22:29

The side of my property runs along a bridle path and a farmer owns this land.

I feel sure he doesn't give a damn about me and I wouldn't offer him beer unless a sh%g was out of the question.;):E

10th Aug 2010, 22:36
Offer a lot line adjustment. A slice off his, made up by a slice off yours. You get the land (and leaves) under the tree, he gets a like amount under nothing. When he is satisfied with the swap, send him a check for the cost of the mulch he lost.

Or just send him a bill to begin with. The leaves are a nuisance because of a claim of his that can be countered. The Bill is your counter claim. once the leaves are off the tree, he cannot legally throw them back. Way back in Queen's Bench: Windfall.

not kidding.

10th Aug 2010, 22:38

And there I was thinking that bears don't sh!t in the forest.

You do plenty here!


10th Aug 2010, 22:45

El Grifo
10th Aug 2010, 23:07
Had a similar problem with a neighbour in Scotland.

Eventually shot the fecker and buried the body in the woods.

That was twenty years ago.

Worked out fine for me :ok:

Leave, no trace :-)

Happy daze
El G.

10th Aug 2010, 23:08
Anything involving solicitors is expensive. Civil litigation (yes, I realise that is tautological, but I use the expression to differentiate from criminal law) is extremely expensive and unlikely to be worthwhile for disputes such as being discussed here. Even a solicitor's letter will cost you (and may have little or no effect).

On the other hand, a cease and desist letter written by yourself might be sufficient - though, I believe that the neighbour in the original scenario is acting within their (legal) rights . . .

It might not be morally correct behaviour, but, IMO, things could be much worse. Believe me.

If you initiate any sort of boundary dispute with a neighbour, you are legally required to declare this to potential purchasers if/when you decide to sell your property. This can act negatively and discourage buyers.

Save your powder for things that really matter (such as rights of access across land or something equally restricting). I had a neighbour who claimed that he had ownership rights over land which clearly belonged to someone else (according to the deeds) and he was required to remove a very large evergreen tree that had been planted by him many years previously and had spread (at ground level) across a shared access, forcing vehicles onto land which was exclusively mine. I built a (stone wall) barrier to prevent this, and, particularly when it was established that the tree was, in fact, planted on land that belonged to a neighbour (who also had shared access rights) then his case was effectively demolished.
He also parked a vehicle on a patch of grass that was on 'my' side of the shared access (land that was excluded from the 'agreed' shared access).
The situation was finally resolved completely when he died soon after.

10th Aug 2010, 23:59
My brother had similar problems with a particular neighbour who presented himself as a pillar of the community but behaved like a complete knob when at home.
He laid down a single band wire fence along one side of the property boundary with "keep out" signs facing towards my brothers property, despite the fact that there was an almost impenetratable 6ft hawthorn & beech hedge along the entire boundary.
This persisted for about two years until the day said neighbour went away on holiday, upon his return he found that someone had mown a "crop circle" in his lawn, including a phalic symbol of considerable size.

He moved about 6 weeks later.

11th Aug 2010, 00:33
The aforementioned neighbour had land which included a 'green lane'. For reasons that I don't understand, it had never been established as a bridalway - though the continuation was - so effectively, the bridleway came to an abrubt end when it reached his land. He 'enclosed' the section of land adjacent to his property (in this case, property meaning building) and, after the requisite period it legally became part of his garden rather than 'right of way'. There was a narrow section that he had left and this subsequently was defined as a public footpath . . .

He also tried a similar ruse on his other neighbour (they had a shared driveway) by installing a line of block paving into the original tarmac drive, thus increasing the width of his 'garden' by a matter of a foot or so and then claiming it was 'exclusive' land rather than part of the shared access. When the matter of the overgrown tree came to a head it was discovered that the land on which the tree had been planted was clearly defined in the deeds as belonging to this other neighbour, at which stage his devious ways were revealed. It was all to no avail - apart from the enclosure of the green lane which remains unavailable as originally enjoyed over centuries dating back to Roman times (there are remains of a significant Roman settlement a few hundred yards away) and he is no longer around to enjoy his attempts to 'empire build'.

Lon More
11th Aug 2010, 00:41
get to the root :E of the problem; kill it off (http://www.reao.com.au/forum/showthread.php?2471-How-To-Kill-a-Tree-Successfully)

Senior Paper Monitor
11th Aug 2010, 00:57
Since herself is on transmit/no recieve at the moment I happen to have a few hours to while away on Google ....

Wokingham Borough Council Trees and the Law (http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/parks-countryside/conservation/general-tree-care-advice/) "With the exception of protected trees i.e. trees included in a Tree Preservation Order or situated within a Conservation Area, a neighbour may cut back any overhanging branches or encroaching roots without the tree owner’s consent. The prunings remain the property of the tree owner and should be tactfully offered back to them. They don't have to accept the prunings from you. You may have to dispose of them yourself. While carrying out the pruning, don't cross the boundary line, either in person or with any equipment, as this could be seen as trespass."

Gardening Laws, Land Laws - your rights (http://www.letsgogardening.co.uk/Information/Laws.htm) Can't cut and paste - see section Roots and OverHanging Branches

The Tree Guys - Trees and the Law - Frequently asked questions relating to tree surgery, trees and the law in the UK (http://www.treeguys.co.uk/trees-and-the-law.html) "Leaf fall is a natural occurrence and no responsibility attributes itself to the tree's owners." .... same statement at Tree Surgeon Nottingham - Arbex Nottingham Tree Surgery (http://www.arbex.biz/treesurgery.php) and Artemis Tree Services (http://www.artemistrees.com/faq.html) and Tree surgery facts - Midland Forestry Ltd - Arboricultural services - site clearances - tree felling - consultancy - local authority contracts (http://www.midlandforestry.co.uk/faqs-leaves.html)

..... or just go round and give him a good slap !

11th Aug 2010, 08:03
Little story, it may serve as advice/a warning.
I moved into a house with a bloody great oak tree in next door's garden right on the bounday fence. I'd checked with the council before moving in that it didn't have a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on it. It didn't.
Couple of years later having nicely settled in decided to get on with the garden - big garden, one of the reasons for buying the place - and decided to have the tree trimmed/lopped back to the boundary as per my legal right. As a bit of neighbourlyness I told the guy who's garden the tree was in so he wasn't taken surprse by the tree men. He went bananas along the lines of, "you can't do that, I'm going to speak to my advisors, it's not possible". "Speak to who you like quoth I, that tree's being trimmed". Two days later Chris the postman appeared. "'Mornin' Phil, one to sign for". An A4 sized brown envelope. The rodent next door had gone off wailing to the council and got a TPO on the tree. I believe that he "knew" someone on the council because of the rapidity it happened. I was /am now stumped. I've been through every appeal that's possible up to government level but Surrey are adamant. They have an obsession with trees and that's that. So now I've got a potentially superb garden space that's permanently in the shade because of this selfish little rodent next door.
The moral of this story? If you've got overhanging trees that need trimming, after ascertaining that there's no TPO just do it. Don't try and be friendly and tell the neighbour(s).

11th Aug 2010, 08:27
There are plenty of ways to 'assist' that tree to die!

tony draper
11th Aug 2010, 09:05
Neighbours are much easier to kill than trees.:)

11th Aug 2010, 09:10
Tousjour the bon mot, Mr.D

11th Aug 2010, 09:18
You guys need a good sense of hummus.

11th Aug 2010, 10:22
Not that I'm anti-tree or anything, but we've long since passed the "Hearts of Oak" stage. The solution to your oak tree problem may lie here (http://www.forestry.gov.uk/newsrele.nsf/70acbaee44ce7e578025751b004c36da/54c6bfc2ddc5beff80257727003981e6!OpenDocument). :suspect:

tony draper
11th Aug 2010, 10:31
Must warn you,very bad karma to kill a tree without dammed good reason,hell is full of chaps who got chain saws for Xmas.:uhoh:

11th Aug 2010, 10:42
Careful Mr Draper sire - Gainesy is everywhere.... :uhoh:

wings folded
11th Aug 2010, 11:07
Tousjour the bon mot, Mr.D

Actually, "toujours" is the bon mot, and yes I am a fully paid up life member of Pedants Anonymous

11th Aug 2010, 11:12
Then you should have known to place a full stop at the end of your sentence.:E

wings folded
11th Aug 2010, 11:20
Then you should have known to place a full stop at the end of your sentence.http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/src:www.pprune.org/get/images/smilies/evil.gif

The end of your sentence appears to have an unknown punctuation mark. It looks like a nasty germ.

It is, of course, a pleasure to encounter a Founding Member of Pedants Anonymous.

11th Aug 2010, 11:46
Tousjour the bon motWith respect to "Franglais", Alan Coren threw the rule book out of the window thirty-odd years ago!



11th Aug 2010, 11:54
A TPO does not stop you from pruning the tree, but you have to give five days notice to the council before doing so. It's perfectly reasonable to thin it by 10% every other year. A good tree-surgeon will know what is possible and how to do it without upsetting the council.

tony draper
11th Aug 2010, 12:06
Buggah orf !!

11th Aug 2010, 12:52
now daughter has moved in it all seems to be a little fraught

Living next door to Malice?

11th Aug 2010, 12:58
There was a very large tree in the grounds of a retirement home that overshadowed a row of houses, threatening electricity and telephone supply cables as well as a 25 to 30 foot high boundary wall (the trunk was pushing the wall outwards over a highway with parallel parking for vehicles next to the wall. The tree owners wanted to reduce the tree for safety reasons as well as improving the light reaching their building. Being in a conservation area they had applied for permission and this resulted in a TPO being issued. Each year they had applied for permission to cut back the 'dangerous' overhanging branches (which would have destroyed any parked cars on the public highway, and each year they were refused.
Eventually they found a tree surgeon who condemned the tree, and, a few months later it was taken down 'from the top down' much to the satisfaction of everyone concerned.

I am a great lover of trees (I currently have more than a hundred seedlings potted up which I will nurture to saplings before they will be transplanted onto their permanent (as much as any tree is permanent) location), but every tree has a useful lifetime and, at some stage, may have to be removed when it becomes unsuitable for its surroundings.

I have lost many trees to honey fungus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_fungus), and the tree preservation officer has told me that I have an obligation to replace these with equivalent trees - but fails to tell me how to avoid the fungus recurring (http://www.webmesh.co.uk/honeytreatment.htm) or what species are resistant to it. In fact I got the impression that he had no idea what I was talking about!

Honey fungus fruiting bodies.

11th Aug 2010, 18:17

know anything about this virus which is supposed to be attacking oak trees?

I must have at least a dozen fully grown oaks, and don't want to lose them...

Sounds as if it's a good thing there are no TPOs on any of them.

11th Aug 2010, 18:23
Sorry, I have no knowledge about the Oak tree disease.

I believe that the Elm tree disease that was called Dutch Elm was caused by a beetle that burrowed under the bark.

Try Googooing . . .

11th Aug 2010, 20:18
I believe that the Elm tree disease that was called Dutch Elm was caused by a beetle that burrowed under the bark.
. . .
... as opposed to those little German Dachshunds that bark in the burrow.

Sorry, I'm off

11th Aug 2010, 21:04
Regarding the oak tree virus I have a very shaky memory of something I read that it was connected with caterpillars of a certain type.

11th Aug 2010, 22:34
Acute oak decline is hitting both species of native oak, which show black bleeding on the trunk and stems and can suffer rapid dieback and death within three to five years. The disease has been found on 55 sites in the east of England, southern England and the Midlands, and experts warn other suspect cases have yet to be confirmed.

Landowners and woodland managers have little idea about how to deal with the problem, including whether to fell the infected trees, he said.
From:- New oak tree disease could 'change British landscape', experts warn | Environment | The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/apr/28/new-disease-killing-oak-trees)

Forest Research - Acute oak decline (http://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/INFD-7UL9NQ)

Recent outbreaks of acute oak decline are now known to have
involved pathogenic bacteria. It is thought that the bacteria
cause the necrotic patches under the bark that leads to stem
bleeds, however more trees need to be examined in detail to
confirm this. It is not yet known how the disease is spread
between trees, but bacteria present in the fluid seeping from the
trunks could potentially be a source of infection.
From:- http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/fcpn015.pdf/$file/fcpn015.pdf


12th Aug 2010, 00:02
Thanks, CPTN.

I'm not a tree hugger, but I do value my patch of woodland!