Neighbour Dispute Results In Conifer Tree Being Cut In Half

Last week, it was reported that a tree – which covered two areas of private land – had been cleaved in half in a residential part of South Yorkshire following a dispute between two neighbours.

The five-metre conifer tree at the centre of the dispute had birds nesting in it, which, according to one of the neighbours in the dispute, resulted in too much noise and mess in the drive of their bungalow.

The two neighbours attempted to come to an amicable arrangement in respect of the tree (last March) which led to “several discussions” about cutting back the branches or installing nets to stop birds from nesting.

One of the neighbours involved in the dispute (Bharat Mistry – who was not responsible for the tree being cut back) said that he had originally trimmed the tree into a ball shape, which his neighbour had agreed to until birds started nesting in the tree. Mr Mistry said he had cut the branches lower down to make space for his neighbours’ car.

Following the aforementioned “several discussions”, Mr Mistry made enquiries with tree surgeons and gardeners, however, their neighbours then took it upon themselves to call their own arborist, which resulted in the tree being half-trimmed (the branches of the tree which covered their side of the divide).

Mr Mistry commented:

“We were absolutely distraught. We pleaded and pleaded with them not to do it, but their mind was made up. That tree was coming down.”

And:

“You can imagine when he first did it we were angry…”

“Obviously after a couple of days we calmed down a bit.”

The tree in Waterthorpe, Sheffield has now become somewhat of a tourist attraction after pictures of it (by the neighbour who had the tree cut back) were shared on Reddit with the title: “Some traditional British pettiness on display.” The image and account have since been removed.

Whilst displeased with the actions of his neighbour, Mr Mistry has conceded that they were entitled to do so as the tree-covered, by a metre, part of their land.

Relevant laws – abatement

The legal right of a neighbour to have a tree cut back to their land boundary goes back a long way to the case of Lemmon v Webb [1894] 3 Ch 1.

This case established that tree branches overhanging onto a persons’ neighbouring land/property can constitute a nuisance and any overhanging branches can be cut back to the boundary.

It is worth pointing out that any branches removed must be carefully removed and returned to the owner and that you must not trespass on your neighbour’s property. It is always worth trying to get the agreement of your neighbour first.

neighbour tree cutHow Nelsons can help

Simon Waterfield is a Partner in our Property Disputes team.

If you would like any legal advice in respect of a neighbour dispute or advice concerning the topics discussed in this article, please call Simon or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or contact us via our online enquiry form.