Problems with Treacherous Trees: YOUR ROUTE TO RESOLUTION

There’s no denying that trees can add great aesthetic appeal to your property and the surrounding area. Yet those of us who are lucky enough to live in a leafy suburb will be all too familiar that when not properly maintained, they could actually pose a great threat. Where this is the case, conducting a tree survey by an experienced arboricultural consultant is one route well worth considering. Seeking their expert advice could not only save you from costly legal issues, but also any further inconvenience moving forward. If a tree is infringing upon your property or private space, there are a number of steps you can take to rectify the situation.

Many of us favour the natural beauty trees bring to our streets and gardens. However, with the unpredictability of Mother Nature, trees can create a whole host of problems. Whether you are a homeowner or potential homebuyer, if you are wary of the state of a tree or its position, it is certainly worth being ‘better safe than sorry’. If you are looking to sell your property it may be worth dealing with any tree related issues before you put it on the market as it could delay the selling process or even put off potential buyers.

Issue: Subsidence

If you have a large tree in close proximity to your home, you could be at risk of subsidence. Subsidence is the downward movement of a building’s foundation, caused by the loss of support beneath it. Through its roots, a large tree has the potential to remove a lot of water from the ground, causing it to shift under the weight of a house and its foundations. This can cause extensive damage such as significant cracking and the complete distortion of openings such as windows and doors. Your risk depends on the proximity of the tree and its roots to your property, along with the nature of the ground that your house has been built upon, such as clay-based soil.

What can I do?

By entering your postcode into online resources such as , you can make an initial assessment of your home’s potential risk. If your home flags up as having a moderate or high risk, it is advisory that you call in the specialists. An arboricultural consultant will provide you with an expert assessment and advice. With regards to houses built after 1976, due to the increased awareness of subsidence by the Building Regulations department, these should have deeper foundations and general safeguarding against subsidence. Recently, due to the presence of large oak trees near houses in Eastwood, measures were taken to curb the effects of subsidence. This local example

demonstrates how you should not leave subsidence to chance.

Issue: Untamed Trees

Unruly trees have the potential to cause significant damage to your property. Worse still, an untamed or fallen branch could be damaging to your neighbour’s property and leave you with costly repair charges.

What can I do?

If this is the case, call in the arboricultural specialists to assess potential decay that if left could prove

extremely costly, or simply make the decision to remove the obstructive part. If you are on the receiving end of an encroaching tree it is best to first let your concerns be known to your neighbour. If they refuse to do anything about the infringing tree you are fully within your rights to take matters into your own hands and remove the part that crosses over your boundary – as long as you offer to return the wood afterwards. Be aware however that whether you are the neighbour or the property owner, before you carry out any tree works you must check whether the tree is protected under the Tree Preservation Orders (TPO). This is particularly relevant if you are living in a conservation area. If a tree is causing damage by its roots or branches from outside your property, such as on a public footpath, it is up to your local council to carry out prevention and repair measures.

Issue: Right to Light

Neighbouring hedges can act as great boundary markers between properties, but also have the potential to cause issues such as blocking out light. For a hedge to qualify as ‘high’ it must be more than two metres tall and be made up of two or more trees or shrubs.

What can I do?

Under these guidelines, attempting to resolve the issue just between yourself and your neighbour to correct the height of the hedge is strongly advised. However, as a last resort if the issue cannot be

resolved between yourselves, an official complaint under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 can be put forward to your local council who will endeavour to resolve the problem.


We provide an extensive range of professional services to private individuals and corporate clients throughout South and East Essex. From Building Surveys to specialist Party Wall advice and Valuation services, working on behalf of new and established clients, solicitors and lending institutions, we have the experience and expertise to carry out a range of services to assist you.

To find out more about our professional/survey services: Call 01702 47 00 55 or email

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