Faced with the festive news that storm Emily’s sister could bring 100mph winds to the UK on Christmas Day, many people whose trees and fences are hanging on by a thread after the last battering we received could be in dispute with their neighbours once the holiday period is over.
While trees and hedges make great boundaries for properties, when they encroach on a neighbour’s land, or, worse, land on the garden or car next door, they can be the cause of bitter disputes or problems due to simply not knowing who should do what to repair the damage.
The simple rule for trees is that they belong to the person on whose land they have grown. This means that all of the tree, from the leaves to the roots belong to the person who owns the tree, so if a neighbour picks fruit from the tree without permission, even from branches overhanging his or her garden, they could be charged with theft.
However, on the plus side, if the leaves from a neighbour’s tree blow into your gutters or drains and block them, you are entitled to ask your neighbour to have them cleaned out or to pay for the cost of any damage caused.
If a branch or a whole tree falls onto a neighbour’s house or garden and causes damage then the owner of the tree may be liable but generally speaking any damage will be covered by buildings insurance, with the insurance company recovering the costs from those who owned the tree.
Similarly, if a tree falls onto your car, as happened quite a lot during the recent storms, you will be covered by your insurance as long as you have a comprehensive policy; a third party or third party fire and theft policy will not cover you.
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London
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