Last updated on December 24th, 2019 at 12:40 pm
A tree that overhangs can ruin the entire look of your garden or property, but it wouldn’t be so bad if they were just unsightly. Unfortunately, a tree overhanging a property can bring a whole host of problems outside of looking bad.
They can bend fencing, damaged guttering, and ruin roofs, but who is responsible for a tree that overhangs the property line? Likewise, if the tree is your neighbors and it comes across your property, what can you do about it? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the answers outlined below.
What you will learn
What Classes As An Overhanging Tree
Firstly, we need to classify an overhanging tree as it isn’t just the branches that invade your garden. An overhanging tree can be branches over your fence, branches or fruit dropping into your yard, roots causing damage to your property and branches blocking sunlight, tv reception, and even solar panels from working effectively.
So even if it is just one branch of your neighbors’ tree that stops satellite TV reception or interferes with your property, this is an overhanging branch.
What To Do About Overhanging Branches
First and foremost, it is always a good idea to try and maintain a good relationship with your neighbor. Everything is always easier when you are on talking terms, so make the most of having an open dialogue and rapport, and ask them kindly to rectify the issue.
If the problem is going to cost money to correct, you can also discuss what you may be willing even to split the cost.
When a neighbor is on a low income, this could make things more complicated, but it is always worth having an open and honest discussion before pursuing any legal action against them.
However, if the discussion and dialogue don’t work, or the property is rented, then legal action may be the only course open to you.
Can I Cut The Overhangs Myself?
In short, yes, you can, but it has to be the overhanging tree or limbs that are on your side of the property line or in your garden. This sounds easy in practice, but if you have the crown of the tree overhanging into your property, it can be difficult to see where to stop.
If it is just a few tree branches that are stopping a signal or stopping you from enjoying the sun, then you have the right to remove them. Talk to your neighbor first and let them know that you are doing this out of politeness and common courtesy.
What To Do If The Neighboring Property Is Rented?
If your neighbors are living in a rented property, or you are not on talking terms with them, you can send them a certified letter detailing the adverse condition or damage their tree is causing your property.
Make it clear which tree it is, the damage it is causing, and it’s helpful if you offer an assessment of the cost (you would need to get a quote from a tree service professional).
In some municipalities, your neighbor then has 21 days to respond to this letter. If they don’t respond, your local government authority can act on your behalf, especially if the tree in question poses a potential danger.
They can take action against the property owners whose trees are unsafe. To get this action from your local council, you will need to get an arborists report stating that the trees in their current state are a danger or potential threat to safety.
How Will The Council or Local Government Assess The Overhang?
There are a few ways that the local government or council will assess your overhang. Firstly, they will see if it is a danger to you or other people in the vicinity, if it is, they can force the property owner to cut the tree down, or pay for a tree service to cut the tree down.
This is usually the course of action if the overhang infringes over roads, walkways, and footpaths. If the overhang isn’t as severe and doesn’t pose a threat to life, the council may ask you to apply for an order or cut the portion of the tree on your side of the property line.
Application For a Tree Removal Order
If the neighbors overhang isn’t deemed as a threat to life, but it is causing you enough issue to stop you using your garden or stop other activities, you may be able to apply for an order or permit to allow your neighbor to remove the tree under the interference with your use and enjoyment of your land clause.
This is a little bit different from the council removing the tree, as this will be done privately, but the council with back your course of action.
The order doesn’t necessarily have to demand that your neighbor/property owner has to remove the tree, it can be that it details annual work to be undertaken, how far it has to be cut back, and other tree maintenance.
Failure to comply with an order can result in a fine of up to $100,000 in some cities, so people are going to want to comply.
Having a tree overhanging into your property can impact your life in many ways. Some people may not see it as a big deal, but it can threaten life, your property, as well as interfere with how you enjoy your garden or yard.
In this day and age, it can also impact your ability to collect electricity and watch TV.
Thankfully the classification as to what concerns a tree overhang is broad and is enough to cover even branches landing in your garden, all the way to crowns and their limbs touching your roof.
The ideal method of rectifying the issue will always be being open and honest with your neighbors and having a frank discussion about the overhang; however, this isn’t still possible as in a case where they may be renting the property.
If that is the case or you can’t talk to your neighbors, there is an array of activities you can take to ensure that the tree does not limit your ability to enjoy your yard.
Start with a letter detailing the course of action you want to see them take, if they fail to respond in the 21 working days, you can then escalate and get your local government authority involved.
Make sure you keep records and photographs, but there is plenty of support available to you.