Trees we own affecting your property

Fallen leaves, twigs, fruit and seed debris

The wind carries leaves, which is outside of our control. Clearing leaves and other natural debris from gutters and gardens is routine maintenance. We expect property owners and residents to carry this out. You can report debris on highway land that could be a slipping hazard to your local district or borough council’s street cleaning team.

Overhanging branches and encroaching roots

If a tree owner declines to cut back a tree or hedge branches, under common law you have the right to cut back branches or roots that come onto your property. You can only cut these back to the boundary (but no further).

Trees growing on our land

There is a common law right to prune overhanging vegetation back to your property boundary (but no further). You will need to consider the legality of any such work and how it is undertaken. Follow the best practice for that particular species of tree. You can only work from your side of the boundary. Be careful not to trespass when doing this.  Avoid damaging the tree, or carrying out any work that might affect the health of the tree or its long term future. This could leave you with the liability should the tree or parts of it fail. Take away any pruned branches and do not return them over the boundary onto our land.

The tree/trees may be in a conservation area or be subject to a Tree Preservation Order. You should check if you need planning consent before carrying out any works. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is an offence to disturb, injure or kill wild birds and bats. It is also an offence to damage, destroy or obstruct access to bird nests and/or bat roosts.

Tree root damage to drains

Trees do not usually have the capacity to break into a sound drain. They may exploit an existing fault and follow the moisture or leak. Roots could then grow into the drain. You should repair or replace drains and ensure they are water tight if there is a tree root blockage.

Tree root damage to property or building

There is no need to assume that a root or roots are going to cause damage if they are close to your house. Subsidence, if it occurs, is a complex issue and it is not always caused by the proximity of a tree or tree's roots.  You will need to investigate any possible causes of cracks appearing on walls.

Unnecessary pruning or tree removal is not good arboricultural practice. It is not a good use of our limited resources, especially if it does not resolve a perceived problem. In some cases, we will need to see any reports from your insurance company or a building/structural surveyor before a tree inspection.

You must initially investigate damage to other property, such as a drive or a boundary wall. This is to find the cause of any damage and show that it is the roots from the tree we own that are causing the issues. Please note, we do not undertake repairs to or on private property. You will need to arrange any repairs yourself.

If you consider that we are responsible for the costs of the repairs, then you will need to request an insurance claim form. Find out more about highway insurance claims.