The Property owner and the Problems with Trees

In the beginning

When you buy a new home and garden it is unlikely that you will think to check if any of the existing trees on the property are protected by a tree preservation order (TPO).

The facts 

These orders are made by the tree officers of local council environment departments to protect trees and make it illegal to prune, fell, uproot or lop any part off the protected tree Even if you cut one of these with out realising that it has a TPO, failure to comply with a protection order can lead to a fine of up to £20,000 for each tree, or twice the value of the tree’s timber, whichever is the greater.

If your garden is situated in a conservation area your trees may also be protected by special orders. The law requires that you give the local authority six week’s noticebefore felling or pruning any tree so that the council has time to decide if it would like to give the tree a preservation order or not. Once a tree is given a TPO it remains binding no matter who owns the land. Even if all you want to do is remove a dead branch from a protected tree you must still get permission from the local council.

If your local council refuses you can make an appeal to the Department of the Environment within 28 days of your local authority refusing

Your responsibilities 
Whether a tree in your garden has a TPO or not, if it is on your property it is your responsibility.Whether you planted the tree or not, if you are the owners and it causes damage to someone’s house or garden then you will be responsible for putting it right.

Be safe 

To be on the safe side it’s best to make sure that your insurance policy covers you for any potential damage that the trees might cause and will pay for the cost of putting any damage right. This should include damage caused to drains out side of our property, damage to a neighbour’s foundations and any lifting of paving. If one of your trees grows into an electricity cable and disturbs the power supply lines, the electricity company has the right to prune or fell the tree and send you the bill. This is also the case if one of your trees is obstructing a public footpath or dangerously overhanging a public highway.

Roots and overhanging branches

It is best to make regular checks for diseased or damaged branches, or root damage to drains or foundations, before any problems arise.

Your neighbours rights 

Your neighbour has the right to cut off any overhanging trees or branches but must return whatever they chop off to the tree’s owner, including any fruit.They are also entitled to remove any invading roots from their garden. If the invading roots are very deep then the neighbour may be entitled to get the work done professionally and claim for iton the tree owner’s household contents insurance policy. Not many people realise this 

And lastly 

Tree owners are not responsible for fallen leaves and any damage that leaves might cause to neighbouring drains, lawns or pathways.

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