Neighbour disputes are often very difficult to deal with from a social perspective. If someone…
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Boundary hedges are one of the more common causes of disputes between neighbours. Hedges can be too big and block the sun out of a garden, or be overzealously trimmed in a way which extends over a boundary, but what is the law on boundary hedges? Here’s our quick guide to the boundary hedge rules in a variety of common disputes.
What is the law on boundary hedge ownership?
The general rule is that if a trunk or main stem of a tree or hedge is on your land, then you own it. The boundary of ‘your land’ is defined in the legal documents from when you bought the house and may contain specific information about the hedge in question.
That said, if a hedge straddles a boundary, it can be wise not to turn any hedge dispute into a boundary dispute. These kinds of personal disputes can be very expensive and must be disclosed when a property is sold.
What is the law on cutting boundary hedges?
While wherever the trunk or main stem defines ownership, a part of the hedge which encroaches on another property can be trimmed by that property’s owner. It’s always a good idea to get permission from the hedge’s owner first, but you would be within your rights to trim part of a hedge which encroaches over a boundary line, including the roots, even if that may damage the overall plant. However, applying weedkiller or similar chemical agents is not permitted.
For any major work, such as removing the hedge or laying a new one, this should be agreed between both parties prior to making undertaking works. Furthermore, if there is an active bird nest within the hedge, then it cannot be trimmed at all due to the work disturbing the birds and violating the Wildlife and Countryside Act. There may also be conservation rules which prevent trimming or removing the hedge without permission, but these will vary from area to area.
What is the legal height of a hedge between neighbours?
A ‘high hedge’ has been defined as more then 2m tall and evergreen or semi-evergreen. A hedge of this size means that a complaint can be made to the local council if the hedge is encroaching on a neighbour’s enjoyment of their garden by blocking the sun or a view. There is a cost to making a complaint, usually around £400.
The council will then consider both sides’ of the case and either reject the complaint or issue a work notice, which sets out how much the hedge shall be cut back and the timeframe in which it must be done.
For more information on boundary disputes, get in touch with DFA Law on 01604 60 95 60 or use our contact form here.