Disputes between neighbours aren’t ideal – and they can be difficult to solve in a way that leaves everyone happy. Common problems between neighbours often involve property borders. It can sometimes be unclear who is in the right when it comes to borders in the garden.

In fact, some laws may even force you to cut down a tree you’ve planted, either by doing it yourself or hiring an experienced arborist. But don’t worry if this turns out to be the case, you can find a professional by searching tree surgeon Chelmsford for experts in Essex and other local areas.

In order to help avoid these sorts of disputes, here are some tips on what to do, what not to do and where you stand legally.

Overgrown and Overhanging Trees

If a neighbouring tree’s branches are hanging over your fence, you are allowed to cut them back down to the border between your garden and your neighbour’s. Though the best thing to do in this case is to speak to your neighbour first.

Even though it is within your rights to cut the tree back, it is better for the relationship between you and your neighbour to talk about it before doing anything. They might even offer to trim it from their end and solve your problem.

Either way, letting them know that you’ll need to cut the tree back will prevent any misunderstanding or ill will. A neighbour could notice you cutting the tree without asking and be offended – it is technically their tree after all.

Clean Up

It might sound a bit unfair, but any branches or leaves that fall into your garden are your job to clean up, which might be why trimming back any branches that hang over your garden is a good idea.

Don’t throw back any leaves, branches or fallen fruit over your neighbour’s fence, even if you don’t like them, as this can count as littering. If you do have a bad relationship with your neighbour for whatever reason, you don’t want to give them any ammunition to use against you.

Similarly, taking fruit or flowers from a neighbour’s tree or bush can actually count as stealing, it’s a minor thing but it’s a legal technicality.

Planting Trees and Blocking Light

When doing things such as planting trees or even building structures or extensions, you need to be aware of “Right of Light”.

Right of Light (or Right to Light) refers to a law that gives certain windows the priority over new structures when it comes to light, meaning that nothing is allowed to block or affect the level of light it receives. Think of it as being similar to the right of way on the road.

For a window to qualify, it must have existed for 20 years, or even 19 years and 1 day is enough. This law doesn’t refer to anything about affecting a nice view you may have through that window; it just applies to the level of light that illuminates the room that the window is in.

When planting a tree, think twice about if it could potentially block a neighbour’s light in the future once it’s grown. It could come back to haunt you otherwise.

As well as having to cut down a tree you’d previously planted, infringing on someone’s right to light could lead to having to pay damages, cancelling a development or even tearing down a structure. A surveyor can examine the area to make sure that no windows will be affected.

Property Borders

Sometimes there can be confusion when it comes to property borders. There are certain laws that surround these borders, also known as party walls. Party walls refer to things like brick walls between neighbours, the laws for party walls don’t include wooden fences.

When planning any sort of change or work on these bordering walls, you’ll need to get agreement and permission from neighbours.

Avoiding Disputes

The simple and best way to avoid any misunderstandings or arguments with neighbours is to communicate with them. Discuss plans or things that need to be done and try to come to an agreement, if this isn’t possible then do what you can and use the above advice to stay within your rights.