Who is Responsible for Cutting Boundary Hedges Between Neighbours?

Hedges and shrubs that stand on the boundary line are owned by both properties. Defining a property’s boundaries can be done by looking at its title plan. However, they will still remain sketchy as it is not considered needed to exactly record a property line (this is mostly the case in England and Wales).

But then who’s responsible for trimming the hedges among the property owners?

If you are unsure of what to do in a situation with your neighbour, you should always try to resolve matters informally first. Your local council can and will reject your complaint if they decide you haven’t taken all the steps (within reason) to reach an agreement without involving them. Here’s who’s really responsible for cutting the hedges:
The responsibility for boundary hedge cutting is shared. Both you and your neighbour should be trimming each other’s respective side of the hedge. You are free to cut back roots or branches that are within your property’s boundaries. However, you’re only allowed to trim the growth on your property. Going further may result in your neighbour taking you to court for property damage.

Would You Be Happy To Hire Us For a Hedge Trim?

We are certified:

What the law says on trimming hedges

Important laws on cutting the boundary hedges that you should be aware of:

The “high hedge” restriction

A “high hedge” that can be a subject of a complaint is considered any hedge that is over 2 metres tall. However, if both sides are satisfied with the hedge’s height it can be kept at over 2 metres. There are other ways of extending a boundary’s height legally.

Bird nesting season and lawful hedge trimming regulations

Try to restrict yourself from trimming hedges that have bird nests because it is an offence to do so. When to cut hedgerows that are home to nesting birds:

To avoid any unwanted mistakes you can pause hedge trimming between March and September as the RSPB suggest. The main breeding season for nesting birds is officially set as between 1 March and 31 July, but for some species, it may extend to August. If you knowingly prune a tree or a bush that you’re aware shelters nesting birds, you are performing an offence.

If you’re certain you have no nesting birds in your hedges you can prune them between Spring and Summer. Generally, the domestic hedge trimming season is either Spring or Winter. Informal hedges require a one-time cut throughout the year. Formal hedges, however, may need maintenance from 2 to 3 times.

Takeaways

  • You are the owner of the hedge if the trunk and roots are on your property.
  • Hedges that sit on boundary lines are owned by both households.
  • You are responsible for maintaining your hedge to avoid damages to your neighbour’s property.
  • Trimming hedges that are home to nesting birds is an offence.
  • Hedges taller than 2m are subject to complaints.

Even though we do our research well, we cannot and should not be held responsible for the accuracy of this webpage. Every piece of information here is meant for informational and educational purposes only. You cannot use this as a definitive legal basis. Fantastic Services encourages you to seek authority professional counsel before you decide to act upon what you have read. For more information, check our disclaimer.

***

Did you find the information useful? Have some additional questions? Please let us know in the comments!

Header image source: / By chanchai plongern

  • Last update: October 31, 2019

Posted in Garden Regulations

85.00 % of readers found this article helpful. Click a star to add your vote(20 votes, 85.00 % ) Loading…

Blog

Nuisance neighbours can cause misery for anyone living nearby. At Slater and Gordon we have seen a rise in the number of clients looking for help in resolving disputes with their neighbours.
To discover just how widespread conflict with neighbours is and find out what the common causes are we have commissioned research. As a part of that project we are also examining how the law can be used to resolve disputes or even prevent conflict in the first place.

A hedge is a lovely green divide between you and the house next door. Or is it a massive row of leylandii blocking the sun and making your house dark? And is there anything you can do about it?

Unfortunately, hedges are such a point of contention for many neighbours and we have seen arguments that last for years over one person’s opinion about the height, width and even darkness of the vegetation.

You are allowed, by law, to prune the roots or branches of a hedge if it’s a nuisance and protruding into your garden. And therefore your neighbour can do the same if it’s your hedge. If the height is the problem do not attempt to trim it without advice from a property solicitor. Sometimes hedges are protected by law so it’s best not to touch them until you know your rights.

If you live in a conservation area, or there are any trees in the hedge that are protected by a tree preservation order then you might need your council’s permission to trim them.

In England and Wales you can complain to your local authority if your house is being affected by evergreen or semi-evergreen hedges that are more than two metres high. These are often leylandii and are sometimes in the news for causing huge arguments between neighbours.

Your local authority can order the reduction in height of hedges, especially if light is being blocked to you or your neighbour’s house and/or garden. You should try to resolve the issue with your neighbour before going to the local authority but we understand that this can sometimes be impossible, especially if your neighbour is not open to discussing the issue.

Your neighbour is responsible for maintaining hedges so they don’t cause damage to neighbouring property. You are, therefore, responsible in the same way for your hedges. If hedges cause damage to property then the owner of the hedge is liable for paying for any repairs.

The same principles apply for trees in general. Neighbours must ensure that the trees don’t interfere with property and that they are kept in good condition. Poorly maintained trees can often become unsafe in high winds and cause extensive damage. If you believe that a neighbour’s tree may be unsafe you can contact your local authority who will come out and assess the danger.

If the local authority believes that a tree is dangerous they will make the tree safe and recover the costs from the owner of said tree. They can also serve a notice if a tree may imminently cause damage to a neighbouring property. The owner of the tree must comply with the notice but if they don’t then the local authority has the power to do the necessary work and charge the owner.

If you are having problems with boundaries, be it hedge, tree or fence, our expert team of Property Lawyers and Slater and Gordon can help. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9083 or contact us online and we will call you.

Leylandii couple remove sections of hedge to dodge laws

A couple have been accused of dodging high hedge legislation after they were ordered to cut back their towering Leylandii – by turning it into a row of trees rather than a hedge.

Retired doctor Joan Robertson and her husband removed alternate sections, so that it is technically a row of 20ft-high trees, and no longer covered by the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013, which was designed to resolve neighbour disputes.

Neighbours Denis and Maureen Parry, of Ludin Links, Fife, Scotland, are furious and claim it’s a blatant attempt to exploit a legal loophole.

Denis and Maureen Parry claim their neighbours have removed alternate trees in order to circumvent hedges legislation. Pictured is what is now left of the hedge after the council ordered their neighbours to cut it back

Pictured is the hedge from Mr and Mrs Parry’s property before their neighbours trimmed the trees back following the council order

Retired doctor Joan Robertson and her husband removed alternate sections of the hedge so that it is technically a row of 20ft-high trees

Scottish laws state that a row of trees cannot be considered a hedge if it has ‘gaps which significantly reduce its overall effect as a barrier’

Denis and Maureen Parry (pictured) are furious that the trees still cut off sunlight to their home even after they were trimmed

A Fife Council officer was due to visit the adjoining gardens yesterday to assess the situation.

Mr Parry, 85, said: ‘This is making a mockery of the law.’

He said he and wife Maureen, 77, tried for years to politely persuade their neighbours to trim the hedge which cuts off sunlight to their home.

In frustration they turned to the High Hedges (Scotland) Act legislation when it came into force two years ago, but said the border between their gardens now looks worse than ever.

Mr Parry said: ‘If they complied with the order it would be a nice, neat hedge still 3.5 metres (11ft, 6in) high and it would have given them the privacy they want.

‘Now we can see into their garden. It looks quite hideous. You can see the bare stumps of the trees with Leylandii at the top.’

Mrs Robertson refused to comment, while Fife Council confirmed that it was investigating the case.

The local authority served a notice on the Robertsons, requiring the 16ft beech hedge and 20ft Leylandii hedges be cut to 11ft and 12ft.

The Robertsons appealed to the Scottish Government, but a reporter upheld the notice, varying it so the Leylandii should be reduced to just under 15ft.

Maureen Parry looks up at the crudely trimmed Leylandii hedge which has been the subject of a long-running neighbourly dispute

From this angle, the row of Leylandii is seen from its side after the Robertsons trimmed it to comply with a council order

Despite being given until September 30 to undertake the work, the Robertsons have only removed some of the trees and are yet to reduce their height

Reporter Lance Guilford concluded the hedge adversely affected the enjoyment of their home which Mr and Mrs Parry could reasonably expect.

Mr and Mrs Robertson were given until September 30 to undertake the work and trimmed the beech hedge as required but have removed some Leylandii completely and are yet to reduce their height.

In their appeal they claimed that the hedgerow was an integral feature of their home and was not the out-of-control type the legislation was designed to protect against.

Laws on high hedges have been adopted in both England and Scotland in recent years due to the high number of neighbourly disputes they cause.

The rules regarding hedges in the two countries remain the same and both sets of legislation define a high hedge as a row of ‘two or more evergreens’ that rise to a height of more than two metres above ground level. Crucially, it must also be considered a barrier to light.

However, the laws contain a caveat that states a hedge, even if it more than two metres tall, cannot be considered forming a barrier to light if it has ‘gaps which significantly reduce its overall effect as a barrier’.

HIGH HEDGE ACT (SCOTLAND) 2013: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE LAW DESIGNED TO RESOLVE DISPUTES

The High Hedge Act 2013 allows neighbours to complain to the council when a hedgerow blocks sunlight from reaching their garden.

Because hedges are not subject to planning permission like a two metre high wall would be, prior to the legislation there was no way to restrict their creation.

Council always encourage complainants and hedge owners to resolve the issue between themselves and say councils should only be called in to help as a last resort.

But because the effect the hedge has is not always clear, disputes can last for years before an agreement can be reached.

The local authority can either issue a high hedge notice, which orders owners to cut the hedge back, or decide not to act.

The rules regarding hedges under Scottish law define a high hedge as a row of ‘two or more evergreens’ that rise to a height of more than two metres above ground level.

Crucially, it must also be considered a barrier to light.

However, the law contains a caveat that states a hedge, even if it more than two metres tall, cannot be considered forming a barrier to light if it has ‘gaps which significantly reduce its overall effect as a barrier’.

So although some may object to very tall hedges, if it is blocking sunlight from reaching the neighbouring property, disgruntled neighbours and the local authorities are unable to do anything.

If a high hedge notice is ordered, the hedge owner can appeal – a process considered by a official known as a ‘reporter’.

The reporter decides whether the original order should stand as it is, be amended in some form, or quashed. There is no final appeal to this decision, but it can be considered one final time by a sheriff via a judicial review.

How can I get my neighbour to cut his Leylandii hedge?

QI have a very small garden which I frequently sat in and enjoyed, but not any more as the sun no longer reaches it. My neighbour, who has a massive garden and employs a gardener weekly, planted a Leylandii hedge between us about 20 years ago.

Initially I didn’t mind, because he always responded to my request to keep his hedge cut on our side. However this stopped almost three years ago. The trees have grown so big now that the branches have grown right over our garden and nothing will grow beneath them.

His gardener manicures his side beautifully but will no longer cut our side as he says it has become too difficult and high. Every time I speak to my neighbour, with whom we get on well, he promises to get it cut but never follows through.

I offered to get it cut myself but I explained it would be costly. He promptly declined to pay for it. I would appreciate any advice. What are my rights in this situation? The quote to cut the hedge is €400 and it costs a further €250 to take the cuttings away.

If I were to cut the lower branches myself, would I be in trouble if I were to place the cuttings over the fence into his garden (at the base of the hedge) to save myself €250? After all, it’s his hedge.

ALeylandii trees, if uncontrolled, are a major cause of boundary related disputes in residential areas. They give rise to more complaints than any other neighbourhood property issue and cause upset and distress to many people who can no longer enjoy their gardens. In the UK Leylandiis are frequently the subject of litigation under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. It is unfortunate that you have an inconsiderate neighbour who will not control the height of his trees.

There is no legislation in Ireland regulating the height of trees or hedges and there is no right to sunlight or natural light to your garden. Your options are therefore limited.

Section 45 of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 provides a mechanism for property owners to apply to the courts for a Works Order to carry out boundary related remedial work on adjoining property to prevent adverse effects to their property in situations where a neighbour is unco-operative.

Provision is also made concerning incurred costs. You may also have recourse to the courts if you can demonstrate that there has been a significant loss of natural light to your house. You should consider these options and consult your solicitor.

You are entitled to cut all the branches that overhang the legal boundary. You are obliged to offer these back but he may not accept them. Placing them in his garden may escalate matters.

Any action involving the courts is likely to be costly and, even if you are happy with the outcome, your satisfaction is likely to be temporary as the issue will arise again in three or four years when the trees regrow. Such action will cause deterioration in relationships and end hopes of future co-operation.

I suggest you first invite your neighbour into your garden, explain your concerns and the difference the sun would make. Remind him of his promises.

Keep the communication as conciliatory as possible and appeal to his sense of fairness by asking him to suggest a solution.

Patrick Shine is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.

QUntil recently I had vinyl flooring in my kitchen. I had to remove it, as it was covered in damp. This is not the first time I have had vinyl flooring in my kitchen removed due to damp.

Interestingly, whenever a new vinyl floor is laid, damp accumulates, but the problem is non-existent once the vinyl is removed.

I would appreciate any advice you might have and any potential solutions you could offer. It should be noted as well that the house is quite old.

AMould growth is unsightly and poses a health risk to occupants, through inhalation of spores and airborne contaminants. I assume from your question that the floor in your kitchen is mass concrete. This assumption is made on the basis that it is uncommon to have significant damp problems where there is a well-ventilated suspended timber floor for example.

Modern construction methods prescribe the use of insulation and a damp-proof membrane as part of a mass concrete floor. Insulation prevents the transfer of cold from the ground up through the concrete floor finish and the damp-proof membrane limits the transfer of moisture up through the floor.

You mention that the property is quite old. Therefore, there is a strong likelihood that the original floor does not incorporate any insulation material or a damp-proof membrane. This allows cold bridging (the transfer of cold) and moisture transfer through the floor.

While the vinyl flooring in the kitchen acts as a damp-proof membrane, the environmental conditions in the kitchen (cooking, heat and steam generation) create the perfect conditions for mould to grow.

There are a number of remedies available to reduce this problem. Option one is to remove the existing concrete floor and install a new floor with appropriate insulation and damp proofing measures to prevent cold transfer from the ground below.

The second option is to apply a waterproof finish (tanking) onto the concrete slab which will prevent moisture transfer through the floor. Consideration should also be given to the installation of a tiled floor finish. Andrew Ramsey is chairman of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland building surveying professional group.

QWe recently bought a second hand property and are now beginning work on renovating a number of the rooms. We plan on laying laminated flooring, however we have discovered that the floors are quite cold.

Upon further inspection it emerged that the floor was not insulated despite the fact that the walls and roof are insulated. In your opinion what would be the best type of insulation for our floor, which I believe is made of chipboard?

Any help would be greatly appreciated, particularly given our desire to lay laminated flooring. The advantages and disadvantages as well as any common pitfalls would be a great help as we are watching our budget.

ATypically, houses built before the mid 1980s will not have insulation in the ground floor structure. This is surprising when you consider that there is potential for heat loss of up to 15 per cent through this part of the building.

The floor you describe is a suspended timber floor. This type of floor was in common use in older properties. Although the works can be disruptive, suspended timber floors are very easy to insulate. The works involve the removal of the chipboard and the placement of insulation between the timber floor joists.

The new insulation should sit neatly between the joists and rest on new supporting timber battens. Floor sheeting can then be reinstated and your new laminate flooring placed on top.

You should notice the difference immediately, as the floor should remain at room temperature once insulation is added below. The placement of the laminate flooring should also help to reduce draughts and subsequent air changes in the building and this will reduce heating costs. If you seal around the edges of the floor this will also help.

In my experience as a chartered building surveyor, the most common pitfall with suspended timber floors occurs when underfloor vents are blocked in order to reduce internal draughts.

This can allow a build-up of moisture within the floor structure, which can lead to decay. Elevated moisture content in timber can also leave it prone to insect attack or woodworm, so my advice would be to ensure that ventilation is maintained to the void beneath the floor.

As to the type of insulation to use, this will depend on the depth of your floor joists as the new insulation must be accommodated within this depth. As each situation is different, site specific information should be sought so a cost comparison can be made between the insulation choices available.

Your investment in insulating the floors should lead to reduced heating bills and a return on your investment over a relatively short period.

Noel Larkin is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.

Send your queries to [email protected] or to Property Clinic, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. This column is a readers’ service. Advice given is general and individual advice should always be sought

2: Applications for a high hedge notice

15. Although the Act provides a way of settling disputes relating to high hedges, it is intended to be a last resort for the minority of cases where the people involved cannot settle such disputes themselves. The Act emphasises this by stating that potential applicants ‘must take all reasonable steps to resolve the matters in relation to the high hedge’ before making an application. The Act also allows local authorities to issue their own guidance on what people must do before applying for a high hedge notice (pre-application requirements).

What should people do before applying for a high hedge notice?

16. Anyone considering applying for a high hedge notice must have tried to settle the issue with their neighbour before making an application. If a local authority receives an application where there is no evidence that the applicant has tried to do this, they must reject it. The steps people should have taken before applying to the local authority will depend on the circumstances of the case. However, it is not enough for an applicant to simply claim that their neighbour is unapproachable.

Discussion with neighbour

17. Usually the first step for an applicant to take is to discuss the issue with their neighbour to try to settle the problem amicably. They should keep records of all attempts to settle the issue, for example, a diary of conversations held or a series of receipts for postage, and should include these with their application. The attempts should show that the applicant has made a reasonable effort to settle the dispute in a reasonable timescale before applying for a notice (it is not possible to specify what is a reasonable timescale as this will depend on the circumstances of the case).

18. If a hedge problem has been going on for some time, it may date back to well before the Act came into force. During this time the person may have made several unsuccessful attempts to settle the matter through negotiation. Despite this, now that the Act is in place, it is reasonable for a local authority to expect the person to have made another recent attempt to settle the dispute with their neighbour before making a formal application for a high hedge notice. A definition of ‘reasonable steps’ to try to settle the matter without referring the case to the local authority would be two formal approaches to the neighbour within a six-month period before applying for a high hedge notice. The applicant should keep a copy of any letters they have sent to their neighbour, with a record of their delivery, as the local authority will normally ask to see these letters as reasonable evidence of the applicant’s own attempts to settle the dispute.

Mediation

19. Another option for settling high hedge disputes without involving the local authority is mediation. This is a way of settling differences by working with everyone involved in the dispute. Mediation can be carried out by various people, such as a member of the local community or a professional mediator. In many parts of the country, the Scottish Mediation Network provides low-cost access to mediation services. In some local authority areas, mediation services may be provided free of charge. People should check with their local authority about the availability and cost of local mediation services, although local authority officials dealing with high hedge applications do not provide mediation themselves.

20. It is important to remember that although mediation can be an effective way to settle disputes, cases can still be considered without it. It is possible to make an application that shows the applicant has made an effort to solve the high hedge issue amicably without using mediation. The local authority will decide whether the evidence they provide proves that they have made reasonable efforts to settle the dispute. If the person who owns the hedge refuses to take part in mediation, this could be used as evidence that the applicant has made a reasonable attempt to settle the matter, although the local authority should consider the cost and availability of mediation when deciding whether this is a truly reasonable attempt.

Approaching the local authority

21. People may contact their local authority informally to discuss a possible application. In these situations, the local authority should ask about the nature of the problem and explain that the Act states that the person must take all reasonable steps to try to settle the issue themselves before making a formal application to the local authority under the Act. The applicant can then make a formal application for a high hedge notice to be served if their reasonable attempts fail to deal with the problem.

22. A local authority is to be able to provide – and be seen to provide – an impartial assessment of an application for a High Hedge Notice. The local authority should avoid any activity that can make it appear to be acting on behalf of, or favouring, any particular party. For example, officers of a local authority who would be involved in assessing a future application should be cautious about approaching a hedge owner on behalf of an affected neighbour as this is likely to be seen to be acting on behalf of the neighbour.

23. The Act allows local authorities to issue their own guidance on the Act. The local authority should tell people about any guidance they have produced, and may also refer them to this guidance.

Applications where it is not clear who owns the land

24. There are special conditions in the Act for cases where it is difficult to establish who owns the land a hedge is on. If an applicant is unclear about who owns the land, they should take reasonable steps to identify the owner of the land and should record these steps in the application before sending it to the local authority. Applicants can contact Registers of Scotland to find out if the land is registered. Companies House may be able to provide information on land owned by a business. In exceptional circumstances, if it is not possible to trace the owner of land, it passes to the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer.

Deciding whether an application is eligible

25. The Act states that an owner or occupier of a domestic property can apply to their local authority for a high hedge notice if they consider ‘that the height of a high hedge situated on land owned or occupied by another person adversely affects the enjoyment of the domestic property which an occupant of that property could ‘reasonably expect to have’ ‘ (see paragraphs 80-83 for more information).

26. An application for a high hedge notice can only be made under the Act for a hedge which is a high hedge. If the requirements of a high hedge set out in paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (1) are not met then the local authority should inform the person submitting the ‘application’ that it does not meet the requirements of the Act and so cannot be considered as an application under the Act. The local authority should explain, briefly, why they have reached that view.

Dismissing an application

27. A local authority must dismiss an application if, after giving due consideration to the Act, they consider that the applicant has not taken all reasonable steps to sort out the situation, or if they consider that the application is frivolous (that is, that it is not a reasonable application and it has no reasonable chance of succeeding) or vexatious (that is, the application is intended to harass, annoy or cause frustration or financial loss to the other person despite there being little justification for a complaint in the first place).

28. If the local authority decides to dismiss an application on the grounds of being frivolous or vexatious, they must tell the applicant as soon as possible, giving full and detailed reasons for doing so. Whether the local authority considers an application to be frivolous or vexatious will depend on the particular circumstances of that application. An example might be where someone repeatedly applies (unsuccessfully) to the local authority for a high hedge notice without any significant change in circumstances that would affect the local authority’s decision.

29. Local authorities should consider whether there has been any change in circumstances before dismissing an application on the grounds that it is frivolous or vexatious. If the local authority dismiss an initial application but the situation later changes, for example because the applicant extends their house or there have been changes to the high hedge, the applicant is entitled to make a new application for a high hedge notice, drawing attention to the change in circumstances.

Withdrawing an application

30. The applicant may withdraw their application at any time before the local authority make their decision on a high hedge notice. Discussion and negotiation between the people involved in the dispute can continue while the local authority are considering a formal application. If all people concerned can agree a way forward, the applicant should withdraw their application.

The scope of the Act

31. When a local authority receive a formal application for a high hedge notice, they should make sure that the applicant has filled in all parts of the application form and paid the appropriate fee (if any).

32. The local authority must also consider whether an application is eligible by confirming that:

  • they are the correct local authority to deal with the application;
  • the applicant is the owner or occupier of the domestic property specified in the application;
  • the hedge specified in the application is on land owned or occupied by another person;
  • the hedge specified in the application is a high hedge; and
  • the applicant has paid the appropriate fee.

33. The local authority do not need to decide whether the applicant’s reasonable enjoyment of their house is being negatively affected by the height of a high hedge until they have confirmed that the application is eligible. See chapter 3 of this guidance (Deciding whether a high hedge notice should be issued) for more information.

Local authority responsibility for dealing with applications

34. Applications must be made to the local authority responsible for the area where the hedge is located. For example, if a hedge is on land within the boundaries of local authority A but the applicant lives in the area of local authority B, the application should be sent to local authority A. When the local authority receive the application, after confirming that it is eligible, they should send a copy of the application to every owner and occupier of the property the hedge is on, regardless of which local authority area the owner or occupier lives in.

Affected property

35. An applicant can only apply for a high hedge notice if domestic property is negatively affected by a high hedge. The Act defines domestic property as ‘any part of a building in Scotland which is occupied, or intended to be occupied, as a separate dwelling’ and ‘a yard, garden, garage or outhouse in Scotland which belongs to such a building or is usually enjoyed with it’. For example, this would include a flat that is used as a home even if it is part of a tenement that contains a mix of homes and businesses, but would not include properties that are in a residential area but are used for business purposes only, for example, a dental practice or a doctor’s surgery.

Location of the hedge

36. The Act states that the hedge must be on land that is owned by someone other than the applicant. There are no other restrictions on where the hedge must be located. It is the effect the hedge has on a domestic property that is important, rather than where the hedge is located, for example, an application could relate to a hedge situated on commercial land that affects residential property. As part of the application, the applicant should normally provide a map showing all the main features such as the location of the high hedge, the boundaries of gardens and the location of buildings. In some circumstances, a detailed written description of the situation may be enough.

37. Although the Act uses the term ‘neighbouring land’ to describe where the hedge is growing, the hedge does not have to be next door to the applicant’s property. This means that a hedge on ‘neighbouring land’ could be several gardens down the road or across the street, as long as the applicant can show that it has a negative effect on their enjoyment of their house.

38. The hedge does not have to be on one property only. It could extend over several properties, and it does not have to be growing in a garden. It could, for example, be on parkland that backs onto a garden or yard, or on business premises.

Crown land

39. The Act also applies to Crown land. This means that local authorities are able to investigate and decide applications relating to high hedges on land owned by the Crown (for example, a hedge on land owned by some government departments).

Meaning of ‘high hedge’

40. The Act only applies to hedges; for trees and shrubs to be considered as a ‘high hedge’, they must first be considered to form a hedge. Only once trees and shrubs are identified as forming a hedge can consideration be given to whether they form a high hedge. In order for a hedge to be considered as a high hedge they must meet the definition given in the Act.

41. Section 1 of the Act defines a ‘high hedge’ as a hedge:

  • being formed wholly or mainly by a row of two or more trees or shrubs;
  • rising to a height of more than 2 metres above ground level; and
  • forming a barrier to light (unless gaps in the hedge significantly reduce its overall effect as a barrier to light at heights of more than 2 metres above ground level).

42. It is not necessary for the whole of a hedge to fall within the definition. If parts of a hedge qualify, the hedge will be eligible for an application for a high hedge notice.

Hedges

43. For trees or shrubs to be considered as a high hedge, they must first be a hedge. A hedge is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as:

“A row of bushes or low trees (e.g. a hawthorn, or privet) planted closely to form a boundary between pieces of land or at the sides of a road”,

in the Cambridge English Dictionary as:

“A line of bushes or small trees planted very close together, especially along the edge of a garden, field, or road”

and in the Collins English Dictionary as:

“A row of bushes or small trees, usually along the edge of a garden, field, or road.”

44. While the above definitions provide guidance on what would be considered a hedge, it is expected that hedges which meet the definition of a high hedge in the Act are likely to be made up of trees considerably larger in stature than the ‘small trees’ referred to.

45. The Act does not make it illegal to grow leylandii and other fast-growing plants. Simply growing a hedge itself is not illegal, nor is owning a hedge which exceeds two metres in height. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 controls where non-native plants can be planted and states that no non-native plant may be planted in the wild. Parliament has approved a code of practice for non-native species to further explain this subject, and you can also find exceptions approved by Parliament on the Scottish Government webpages.

46. Other factors under the terms of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 may have to be considered too. This includes whether there are any protected birds, animals or plants in the hedge and how they would be affected by any work; legislation which protects wildlife; and whether any work should be carried out, or avoided, at a particular time of year (for example, if birds are nesting in the hedge, hedge cutting should be avoided during the nesting season).

47. The Act applies to hedges and is not designed to affect woodland and forests. For example, well-spaced tree lines are not normally considered as a hedge, even if the trees join to form a canopy. It is not normally expected that trees planted between properties would be classified as either woodland or forests.

48. Where trees form a boundary between properties the local authority should consider if the trees form a hedge. If the trees are not considered to form a hedge the Act cannot be applied. It is accepted that multiple trees can have a similar impact as a high hedge. However the trees must firstly be considered to form a hedge to be considered under the scope of the Act.

49. In order to establish if trees and shrubs form what is commonly recognised as a hedge, local authorities should consider a number of criteria when making their assessment. The following criteria may assist in determining if trees and shrubs constitute a hedge. These criteria are not tests and should be viewed as things that may be useful for local authorities to consider to help make a decision but it is not expected that every hedge would meet these criteria;

  • The spacing of trees and shrubs consistent with hedge planting
  • The past and current management of trees and shrubs

Spacing

50. The spacing between individual trees and shrubs can assist in identifying if the trees and shrubs form a hedge. Individual trees and shrubs within a hedge are commonly planted relatively close. In order to form a hedge individual plants are more commonly spaced at 30-60 cm apart. Where a wider hedge is required, the plants may be planted up to 90 cm apart in two staggered rows. The spacing between leylandii, or other fast growing coniferous trees, may be greater; up to 1.2 metres apart, depending on the stock size at planting.

51. Trees and shrubs planted at significantly wider spacings than those outlined above are unlikely to fall under the scope of the act.

Management

52. The past and current management of trees and shrubs can give a clear indication as to whether trees and shrubs constitute a hedge. Hedges are generally maintained by regularly trimming the sides and top of the vegetation. Formal hedges are commonly trimmed on an annual basis whilst informal hedges and hedges planted for wildlife are likely to be trimmed less regularly or on a cyclical basis whereby the sides and the top of the hedge are cut in different years. Even neglected hedges are likely to show some signs of past maintenance.

53. Rows of well-spaced trees can also be regularly managed. This is commonly achieved by pollarding the trees or reducing the tree crown. Pollarding and crown reduction are recognised techniques for managing trees and often result in a substantial reduction in the crown of the tree. Pollarding and crown reduction are not considered to be a method utilised to maintain hedges. As such a row of well-spaced, pollarded trees or trees that have had a crown reduction undertaken are unlikely to be considered as a hedge. As such it is unlikely that trees that have been managed in this way will fall under the remit of the Act.

54. Whilst it is generally expected that most hedges formed from traditional hedging plants (particularly broad-leaved tree species) meet the criteria outlined above, it is recognised that, particularly in the case of fast growing coniferous trees (e.g. leylandii), these criteria may not apply. Fast growing conifers can be planted at much greater distances apart and still form what is commonly recognised as a hedge, particularly as their canopies coalesce. Due to the natural growth habit and dense foliage of these trees, a hedge may be formed without current or previous management practices. However, in arriving at a decision, the local authority will look at each case on its own merits.

Line of two or more trees or shrubs

55. An application cannot be made under the Act against single trees or shrubs, whatever their size. Two or more trees or shrubs in a hedge do not have to form a precisely straight line to qualify as a high hedge. As long as they are roughly in line, they may be considered as a high hedge under the Act.

56. A tree or shrub that has several stems, all growing from the same trunk or root plate, is a single tree or shrub and so is not covered by the Act. This applies even though the tree or shrub may grow to be large and cover a considerable area.

More than 2 metres above ground level

57. Local authorities cannot accept applications relating to hedges less than 2 metres high. The 2 metres should be measured from the ground where the hedge is growing – that will usually be on the hedge owner’s side. For these purposes, ground level means the natural level of the ground where the hedge is growing. Normally, any measurements should be taken from the ground at the base of the trunks or stems of the trees or shrubs in the hedge. An exception might be where the hedge has been planted on a mound, or in a flower bed or other container that is raised above the ground, in which case the height should be measured starting from original ground level taking into account the additional height of hedge due to any raised planting position.

58. Applicants should not have to provide a precise measurement of a hedge in order to make an application about a high hedge. The legislation does not give the applicant permission to enter their neighbour’s land to take any measurements. It should be enough for them to estimate the height of the hedge when working out whether the hedge is covered by the Act.

59. When a local authority are considering an application for a high hedge notice, they will need to consider the height of the hedge on the applicant’s side to assess the effect on their property. They will also need to confirm that the height of the hedge is more than 2 metres from ground level, and so are likely to need to measure the hedge on the owner’s side.

Barrier to light

60. The Act applies to hedges that act as a barrier to light. If a hedge has gaps which significantly reduce its overall effect as a barrier at heights of more than 2 metres then the hedge should not to be considered a barrier to light. The local authority must decide whether a particular hedge meets this condition by considering the trees or shrubs that make up the hedge, including its shape, its growth habit, and, most importantly, what it looks like above 2 metres. Even though there might be gaps in the foliage or between the trees or shrubs, the local authority must consider whether the hedge is, overall, a barrier to light.

61. The trees or shrubs in the hedge may have been closely planted and become so entangled that they appear as a solid green wall. In these circumstances, the matter may be straightforward as the hedge is evidently capable of blocking light. Other cases may be more difficult to judge. The trees or shrubs may be more widely spaced so their branches are not touching. Branches may have fallen off or been removed so the canopy is lifted or the growth might be ‘straggly’, with few leaves or greenery. Local authorities must assess each case individually. If a hedge is so widely spaced, or the gaps in the leaves are so big that it is possible to see what lies behind them, the hedge may not act as a barrier to light and therefore not be covered by the Act, but this decision must be based on the circumstances of each case. In some cases, it may be possible to tell from photographs, or other evidence, whether a hedge forms a barrier to light. However, the local authority shall visit the property to see the hedge before making a decision. There is guidance on this in chapter 3 (‘Deciding whether a high hedge notice should be issued’).

62. This guidance does not specify limits for light levels, and local authorities are free to measure light levels using any methods they consider reasonable and suitable for their needs. An example of a method of measuring light levels is the Hedge Height and Light Loss (March 2004) guidelines which were developed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE). These guidelines were created to help local authorities in England and Wales make decisions under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003. However, the method set out in these 2004 guidelines was designed to apply only to evergreen hedges adjacent to the boundary, whereas the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013 covers all types of hedges, including those at a distance from the boundary, and so that method cannot be applied in all cases. Whichever method the local authority decide to use to help them make their final decision as to whether a hedge is a barrier to light, they must consider the circumstances of each case.

Application fee

63. The Act gives local authorities the right to charge a fee for dealing with applications for high hedge notices but it does not set a standard fee. Instead, it allows local authorities to set different fees to take account of different circumstances and to refund fees when appropriate.

64. Applicants must send the appropriate fee with their application for a high hedge notice. We recommend that local authorities publish a list of their fees so it is clear how much applications cost.

Setting fees

65. The Act states that any fees local authorities charge for an application for a high hedge notice should aim to cover the reasonable costs of considering the application. The legislation is not intended to generate an income for local authorities.

Concessionary rates

66. Local authorities are encouraged to introduce concessionary rates for those who are in difficulty paying. Examples of circumstances that may be taken into account include applicants who are low earners, registered disabled persons and pensioners. Local authorities should also consider concessionary rates in situations where several applicants apply for a notice relating to a single hedge or where a single applicant applies for more than one high hedge notice at the same time because more than one hedge is affecting their property.

Refund of fees

67. The Act allows local authorities to refund fees under certain circumstances, where they consider a refund to be appropriate. Local authorities must publish information about circumstances under which they will refund fees.

Help my neighbour’s hedge is ruining my garden – what can I do?

Although your garden is not all that inviting in this weather, when the sun is shining there’s no better place to be.

However there’s nothing worse than not being able to enjoy your garden properly because of a neighbour’s overgrown hedges or trees .

Disputes between neighbours can quickly escalate and it can be difficult to love thy neighbour if their shrubbery is blocking what little sunlight we get here in the UK.

So what are your rights if you’re bothered by a neighbour’s trees or hedges – and what can you do about it?

Trees or hedges overhanging your property.

A hedge being trimmed (Image: iStockphoto)

If a neighbour’s tree or hedge is growing over into your garden, you cannot make them cut it back.

However, you do have the right to remove overgrowing branches yourself, but only back to the common boundary. Any cuttings must be offered back to the tree or hedge owner.

If leaves have blown onto your property from a neighbour’s tree, you cannot expect the tree owner to clean up the leaves or charge them if you do so.

Trees or hedges blocking light.

If a neighbour’s tree is blocking your light you cannot force them to cut it down. As long as the tree is safe and is not causing damage, your neighbour is entitled to grow the tree.

If a neighbour’s hedge is blocking your light and you wish to take action, however, you may be able to do so under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.

Some of the issues you should look at are whether the hedge blocks light to the main rooms of your home; deprives you of winter sunshine; spreads into your garden and is affecting the growth of your plants; is pushing over your fence; has roots which are damaging your path, garage or home.

How to solve the problem.

Some tidy hedges (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

First, try and settle any hedge dispute informally.

Before making a formal complaint or getting others involved, try to discuss the problem with your neighbour.

How you approach them is up to you. The official gov.uk website advises that, “If you’re worried about approaching them, write a letter, explaining the problem clearly and sticking to the facts”; while the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister says you should “speak to your neighbours face-to-face rather than push a note through the door.”

Whichever approach you take, stick to the facts, don’t dwell on past failures to sort the problem out, and don’t be rude or abusive.

If the problem affects other neighbours, involve them as well. It can be easier to settle a dispute if the complaint comes from a number of people. A tenants’ association might help if you’re a member of one.

And if that doesn’t work?

If you can’t resolve it, get in touch with the council.

You need to complain to your council. You can make a complaint form if the hedge is all of these:

– Two or more mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs

– Over 2 metres tall

– Affecting your enjoyment of your home or garden because it’s too tall

– You will need to ask for a complaint form, and you might have to pay the council a fee to consider your complaint.

What happens next?

The council will make a decision about whether any action needs to be taken over the hedge. If something needs to be done, this will be issued in the form of a Remedial Notice.

Councils have the power to fine householders up to £1,000 if they refuse to comply with orders to cut hedges back.

Can you appeal?

You can appeal against either a high hedge Remedial Notice, or the council’s decision not to issue one if you either:

– Complained to the council about the hedge

– Own, rent or occupy the land that the hedge is on

– There’s no fee for appealing, but you must appeal within 28 days of the remedial notice.

The appeal is made to the Planning Inspectorate. Once your appeal is validated, you’ll normally get a decision within 34 weeks.

Resolving neighbour disputes

You must try to settle a dispute about a high hedge informally before the council can intervene.

Ask your council for a complaint form if the hedge is all of these:

  • 2 or more mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs
  • over 2 metres tall
  • affecting your enjoyment of your home or garden because it’s too tall

You might have to pay the council a fee to consider your complaint.

Read more about complaining to your council about a high hedge.

When you can trim hedges or trees

You can trim branches or roots that cross into your property from a neighbour’s property or a public road.

You can only trim up to the property boundary. If you do more than this, your neighbour could take you to court for damaging their property.

If you live in a conservation area, or the trees in the hedge are protected by a ‘tree preservation order’, you might need your council’s permission to trim them.

If your property borders a road

The highways authority can ask you to cut back hedges or trees on your property if they’re causing an obstruction in the road. If you refuse, they can go into your property without your permission to do the work themselves. They may charge you for this.

Property damage from hedges

Your neighbour is responsible for maintaining their hedges so they do not, for example, damage your property or grow too high. If they do damage your property, your neighbour may be liable.

Boundaries and shared (‘party’) walls

Disputes about what is the exact boundary between 2 properties can be difficult to solve so get legal advice.

You must give notice to your neighbour if you are going to do work on a shared (‘party’) wall.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has free advice on boundary disputes and party walls (the walls you share with your neighbours).

Property Line and Fence Laws in Washington

Thank you for subscribing!

Created by FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors.

Unfortunately, good fences do not always make good neighbors. It’s all too common for adjoining property owners to have differing opinions about fences and trees along the property line. If you live in Washington and are in a dispute with a neighbor, or simply want to know more about how the law applies to you, read on to learn more about property line and fence laws in Washington.

Washington Property Line, Fence, and Tree Trimming Laws

Washington statutes address legal issues related to common fences separating your property from your neighbors. If you’re conducting legal research, you can look to the Revised Code of Washington for laws about building, paying for, and maintaining boundary fences.

Washington law also prohibits building “spite fences,” which is a term for a structure built for no legitimate reason other than to harass your neighbor. Washington laws allow courts to issue injunctions to stop the construction of spite fences or other structures.

Washington case law addresses property owners’ right to trim encroaching branches from a tree located on a neighbor’s property. The law recognizes your right to exercise “self help” by trimming encroaching branches up to the property line. However, you can’t exercise this right to your neighbor’s detriment; you may be held liable if your trimming causes significant harm to the tree.

The following chart provides more information about Washington laws governing property lines, fences, and tree trimming.

Statutes and Case Law

Boundary Fences: Revised Code of Washington Sections 16.60.020, 16.60.030, and 16.60.050

Spite Fences: Revised Code of Washington Section 7.40.030

Tree Trimming: Maier v. Giske,154 Wn. App. 6 (2010)

Boundary Fence Rules

  • In most circumstances, a landowner who builds a boundary fence along a property line can seek reimbursement from the neighboring landowner for one-half the cost of the fence.
  • A landowner building a boundary fence must first give notice to the adjoining landowner.
  • Adjoining landowners are jointly responsible for maintaining boundary fences.

Spite Fence Rules

  • Washington statutes allow courts to enjoin the construction of any structure built maliciously and intended to spite, injure, or annoy an adjoining landowner.

Tree Trimming Rules

  • In most circumstances, a property owner has the right to trim encroaching tree branches up to the property line.
  • If trimming a neighbor’s tree branches kills or irreparably harms the tree, the property owner may be liable for timber trespass.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Property Line, Fence, and Tree Resources

  • Property Boundaries, Lines and Neighbors FAQ
  • Fencing Laws and Your Neighbors: FAQs
  • Boundary Disputes
  • Conflicts Involving Trees and Neighbors
  • Neighbor Disputes: Trees

Get Property Dispute Relief from a Washington Attorney

Sharing a boundary line with a neighbor can unfortunately lead to conflict. Fences and trees along the property line can easily give rise to disagreements. In Washington state, the law addresses in detail the rights and responsibilities of adjoining landowners. To learn more about how the law applies to your specific case, contact an experienced Washington real estate attorney.

High hedges and hedge removal

The Council deals with High Hedges throughout the District. The control only applies to evergreen or semi-evergreen hedges over two metres high and the Council can only accept a complaint when reasonable steps have been made to resolve the issue.

Hedgerow Removal Notice:

Hedgerow removal is a different procedure to High hedge complaints. A hedgerow removal form is available together with the National Planning Portal guidance notes and the NFDC checklist of requirements for an application for hedgerow removal notice

High Hedge complaints

The Council deals with High Hedge Complaints throughout the District (including the New Forest National Park area) under Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.

The control only applies to evergreen or semi-evergreen hedges comprising 2 or more plans of over two metres high and the Council can only accept a complaint when reasonable steps have been made to resolve the issue.

There is a fee for making a high hedge complaint. See current fees .

To deal with a High hedge complaint a form must be completed, and evidence submitted with it. This fee is non-refundable regardless of the decision of the Council, however we will always assess whether the complaint is valid before it is registered, and the fee is accepted.

The Council will take a minimum of 12 weeks to consider your complaint and decide whether there is a detrimental impact on amenity because of the height of the hedge.

Often this process takes considerably longer to resolve given the procedure that we currently follow.

If Remedial Action is required a Legal Notice will be served which specifies what needs to be done and in what timescale. If Remedial Action is not required a letter will be sent to all parties explaining the basis of this decision and include a copy of the case officers report and assessment.

There is a right of appeal by the complaint (s) and hedge owner against this decision within 28 days of the notification that no action is required or a Remedial Notice being served.

If you want us to determine if we consider that this is a hedge as defined in the Anti-Social Behaviour Act you can make an enquiry using High Hedge Enquiry form. See current fees .

If you satisfy the above criteria for a High hedge complaint you can submit a High hedge complaint by completing this online form: High Hedge Complaint Form, and refer to the Complaint form guidance notes Opens new window.

The Planning Services Privacy Notice can be read here.

New Forest District Council Privacy Notice can be read here.

With your complaint you will need to submit the following:

1. Photographs of the hedge:

  • This should be sufficient to allow the Council to determine if the hedge complies with the stated definition of a hedge for the purposes of this legislation.
  • The date and time of the photographs should be clearly marked. Ideally, these should have been taken recently and show the extent to which the hedge casts a shadow over your property.

2. A location plan showing the hedge and surrounding properties.

3. Copies of correspondence with hedge owner about the hedge.

4. Copies of any documents that you may mention.

5. Copies of evidence of entitlement to a reduced fee (if applicable).

6. Copies of evidence of formal mediation and fee paid (if applicable).

7. The reference to any High Hedge enquiry you have made so a refund can be issued for this advice (if applicable).

You should consider this information carefully before you submit your complaint to the Council. Further information is available from the National Planning Portal.

Invalid Complaints

If a complaint is rejected because it does not meet the requirements there is no specific right of appeal. However, if you consider that the Council have not applied the legislation correctly, you can refer the matter to the Council’s own complaints officer or to the Local Government Ombudsman. Alternatively, you may apply to the High Court to challenge the decision by judicial review.

High Hedge Complaint guidance:

A high hedge complaint should only be made after all other means of resolving the issue, including mediation, have taken place. Evidence of the actions taken to attempt to resolve a complaint are required to be submitted and will be considered before a complaint is accepted.

Councils can only consider a complaint if it satisfies the following criteria:

• It must relate to a high hedge as defined in the Act;

• The hedge must be on land that is owned by someone other than the complainant;

• It must be affecting a domestic property;

• The complaint must be made on the grounds that the height of the hedge is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of the domestic property in question; and

• It must be brought by the owner or occupier of that property.

What can be considered as a High Hedge?

A high hedge is defined in the Act as

“so much of a barrier to light or access as is formed wholly or predominantly by a line of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs and rises to a height of more than 2 metres above ground level. But, for these purposes, a line of evergreens or semi-evergreens is not to be regarded as forming a barrier to light or access if gaps significantly affect its overall effect as such a barrier at heights of more than 2 metres above ground level”

In considering whether a particular hedge can be considered; the following questions should be asked:

  • Is the hedge – or the portion that is causing problems – made up of a line of two or more trees or shrubs?

  • Is it mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen?

  • Is it more than 2 metres above ground level?

  • Even though there are gaps in the foliage or between the trees, is the hedge still capable of obstructing light or views?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to all these questions, it is likely to be a high hedge for the purposes of the Act.

If some parts of the hedge, but not the whole hedge, meets this definition they can be considered as individual hedges.

The following additional information might be helpful in considering the answers to the questions set out above.

Line of two or more trees or shrubs

  • A complaint cannot be made about single trees or shrubs, whatever their size.

  • A tree or shrub that has multiple stems, all growing from the same trunk or root plate, remains a single tree or shrub and so falls outside the scope of the High hedges procedure. This even though the multiple stems might result in a considerable spread.

  • The two or more trees or shrubs do not have to form a straight line. As long as they are roughly in line.

  • It is unlikely, therefore, that the definition will include groups of trees, copses or small woodlands – unless they have a row of trees bounding them.

‘Mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen’

  • The High Hedges procedure includes Leyland cypress or conifers, but it also includes other evergreen trees or shrubs, such as laurel.

  • It does not include climbing plants, such as ivy, or bamboo – which is classed as a grass.

  • A semi-evergreen is not separately defined but normally means that the hedge retains some live foliage throughout the year. Depending on geographical location, this could include privet. The further north, the more likely that a privet hedge will lose its leaves over the winter and so would not be covered by this definition.

  • Beech and hornbeam hedges are excluded. Although they may retain some foliage for most of the year, this is brown and dead.

  • A hedge does not have to comprise wholly evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs to fall within the definition.

  • The Act applies to hedges that are predominantly evergreen or semi evergreen. Whether a particular hedge is mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen is a matter of judgement. It does not necessarily require a set number or proportion of the trees or shrubs in the hedge to meet this description.

  • The effect of including predominantly evergreen or semi-evergreen hedges is to bring mixed hedges – that include some deciduous species – within the scope of the definition. Deciduous trees that are located within a predominantly evergreen hedge might be the subject of a complaint under the Act.

‘More than 2 metres above ground level’

  • The 2-metre height should be measured from the ground where the hedge is growing – that will usually be on the hedge owner’s side. Even if the property affected is on a lower (or higher) level than the land where the hedge is situated, the 2 metres should still be measured from the ground where the hedge is growing.

  • Ground level means the natural level of the ground where the hedge is situated. Normally, therefore, any measurements should be taken from the ground at the base of the trunks or stems of the trees or shrubs in the hedge.

‘Barrier to light or access’

  • If there are any gaps that occur above the 2-metre height of the hedge, making the hedge a barrier to light or access then the high hedge procedure will apply. This is consistent with the fact that complaints cannot be brought against 2 metre high hedges. It effectively takes anything below this height outside the scope of the Act.

  • Whether a particular hedge meets these criteria is a matter of judgement. The key question is whether – even though there might be gaps in the foliage or between the trees or shrubs – the hedge is capable of obstructing light or views. But, if individual trees or shrubs are so widely spaced, or the gaps in the foliage are so extensive that it is possible to see what lies behind them, then the hedge might fall outside the scope of The Act.

Each case must be assessed individually, on its merits.

Location of the Hedge

The hedge must be located on land that is owned by someone other than the complainant. Otherwise, there is no restriction on where the hedge is situated. It is the effect of the hedge on a domestic property that is important, rather than where it is located.

The offending hedge does not have to be growing in someone else’s garden. It could, for instance, be on parkland that backs onto a garden, or on commercial premises.

Grounds of Complaint

You can complain if the height of the hedge is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of a domestic property. In making a complaint to the Council must, therefore, you must show that:

• The problems with the hedge are related to its height; and

• They are adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of the domestic property.

Height

  • The complaint can only relate to problems experienced because the hedge is too tall.

  • Problems associated with the width of the hedge will not normally be considered.

  • The effect of roots are specifically excluded

Reasonable enjoyment of property

  • The hedge must be adversely affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of their property.

  • Grounds of complaint must, therefore, relate to the impact of the hedge on the complainant’s residential property.

The Council will determine complaints based on the “reasonable” enjoyment of the property in the particular circumstances. This means the Council must take account of all relevant factors, including the views of the hedge owner and the contribution that the hedge makes to the wider amenity of the area. They will not look solely at the complainant’s concerns.

The Council will therefore:

1. Assess the impact of the hedge on the enjoyment that a reasonable person might expect from their home and garden, thereby introducing a degree of objectivity to the decision-making process. This may differ from the complainant’s expectations.

2. Look at each case on its particular merits

Potential complainants should have regard to these points in framing their grounds of complaint and substantiating their case. Further information on how Councils will assess whether a high hedge is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of a property is in Chapter 5: Assessing and Weighing the Evidence. This should help complainants to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their case before they submit their complaint.

The following are links to Government Legislation and Guidance.

All DCLG documents:

Individual Documents

1. Over the garden hedge

    • 19 January 2007
    • Guidance on how to settle your hedge differences without involving the local authority.

2. High hedges: complaining to the council

    • 19 January 2007
    • Guidance on what complaints local authorities can consider and how they will deal with them.
    • “High Hedges: Complaining to the Council”- https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/high-hedges-complaining-to-the-council

3. High hedges: appealing against the council’s decision

    • 20 October 2005
    • Guidance to explain how and when people can appeal if they disagree with the council’s decision on a hedge complaint.

4. Hedge height and light loss

    • 8 April 2004
    • Guidance
    • A booklet to help people assess whether an evergreen hedge is blocking too much daylight and sunlight to neighbouring properties.
    • Spreadsheet to calculate the Acton hedge height

5. High hedges complaints: prevention and cure

    • 10 May 2005
    • Guidance for local authorities on how to process complaints made about neighbouring high hedges.

6. Matters relating to high hedges: notes to local authorities

    • 11 July 2008
    • Guidance to provide clarification on the role of the Local Government Ombudsman and where work may be required to deciduous parts of high hedges.
  1. Resolving neighbour disputes relating to high hedges trees and boundaries

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *