Trees are an attractive asset to any property as long as they are well maintained and not encroaching into neighbouring property. Some of the questions I get asked are highlighted below.
My neighbour’s tree is overgrowing and coming into my property. Can I cut back the branches as they refuse to do so?
A property owner may cut any tree branches which over-hang his property and without having to give notice to the owner of the tree. However, the property owner may not cut down the tree or enter on to the land of the tree owner without permission. He must also take care not to damage or make the tree dangerous in cutting any branches. It is unlawful to injure trees in such a manner as to cause them to die or decay.
Interestingly, the branches cut and any fruit on them belong to the owner of the tree!
What can I do if I think my neighbour’s tree is a danger to my property?
The owner of such a tree is liable for any damage that it causes if negligence is proved against the owner. Owners should inspect their trees regularly, calling in professionals if necessary to ensure there are no defects in the trees. The owners should check their insurance policies to ensure they are fully covered in the event of a claim. The Local Authority may notify the owner in writing if the tree is or is likely to be a hazard and require him to take appropriate action.
What can I do about roots encroaching from a tree growing in a neighbouring property?
A neighbour has the right to abatement which means eliminating any roots extending into his property. There is no legal right to poison encroaching roots. If the roots are damaged, and the tree injured then the person using toxic substances may be liable. If it is proven that the encroaching roots caused damage to a property, then an action may be brought against the owner.
A tree outside my house blocks the light in my garden, do I have a right to light?
Right to light is a specific and complex legal matter and you should seek specific legal advice on this. This law has been changed significantly by the Land & Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009.
A right to light exists only if the owner of a house can satisfy a court that he has enjoyed the uninterrupted use of that light for a period of greater than 12 years, before any legal action is brought about the light. A right to light only applies to the windows of a property and not to a garden.
My neighbour’s tree/hedge is far too high – what can I do?
There are no height limits for either hedges or trees and there is no legislation currently available in Ireland to enforce a height restriction. If however, this causes a danger to the other property a civil action could be taken following legal advice