Problem with neighbour's tree | Oxfordshire County Council

Problem with neighbour's tree

Advice about problems with trees in your neighbour's garden.

Apple tree

My neighbours are cutting down / pruning a tree in their garden, do they have permission?

Your neighbour will need written permission in the circumstances set out in "Cutting or Pruning Trees".  If the tree(s) is/are not protected then no permission is required, unless:

  • the tree is on a joint boundary or the workmen require access to an adjoining property to carry out the job, then the permission of the other party is required with respect to civil law; or
  • the tree is so large and mature that the work, particularly felling, poses potential dangers to property and land and therefore would require clearance and guidance under Health and Safety Regulations

Contact your District Council Tree Officer, using the details below, to check or to report possible illegal work.

It has overhanging branches and is blocking light, what can I do?

Subject to the trees not being protected, Common Law generally allows you to remove any overhanging branches that overhang your property back to the actual boundary line, but not beyond. This can technically be done without informing or gaining permission from the neighbour, but it is always much better to at least inform them.

Technically the wood removed is owned by the owner of the tree. Therefore it should be offered or returned to the owner.

If the tree(s) is /are protected by any of the means listed above then the appropriate permission will need to be obtained.

Alleged blocking of light to the house or garden is a separate situation, there are complex legal issues involved and only rarely will the Law provide a remedy. If an amicable discussion with your neighbour does not resolve the matter then you may need to consult a solicitor – but bear in mind that this can be expensive.

Who to contact

Last reviewed
15 February 2015
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