- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 25 Nov 2017
 Branches and roots
- The owner of a property has the right to lop off any branches that overhang their property. They do not have the right to take preventive action by cutting back a neighbour’s tree before it overhangs their property. Any lopped branches must be returned to the neighbour.
- Fruit on overhanging branches belongs to the person who owns the tree and strictly speaking in law should be returned to the owner.
- The same legal right in respect of overhanging branches is applicable to tree roots on a neighbour's land.
- In the case of a dispute, the Access to Neighbouring Land Act allows a party to apply to the courts for consent to access neighbouring property to carry out essential maintenance.
- There is no right to a view (although it is possible that a restrictive covenant against ‘annoyance’ can be used to protect a view) although there can be a prescriptive right to light (the right to receive sufficient light through an opening such as a window, to allow ordinary comfortable use and enjoyment of a dwelling, or ordinary beneficial use and occupation of other buildings), see: Right to light for more information.
- There is no right to top a neighbour’s trees or hedges other than any elements that overhang neighbouring property.
NB Some trees are protected by tree preservation orders (TPO's). The principal effect of a TPO is to prohibit the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, uprooting, willful damage to or willful destruction of protected trees or woodlands. This applies to roots as well as stems and branches. The local authority should keep a register of TPO's. See Tree preservation orders for more information.
- Mature trees take up 4,000 litres of groundwater a day in the summer, and tree roots can spread out to a distance equal to the height of the tree. Consequently a situation can occur where neighbouring buildings suffer subsidence. A house owner can bring a successful court action against a neighbour if the cause of the subsidence can be proven to be caused by a neighbour's tree.
 Public rights of way
- The owner of land that is designated a public footpath or bridleway has a legal responsibility to keep the full access clear of trees, shrubs and obstructive vegetation.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- A guide to the use of urban timber FB 50.
- Chain of custody.
- Conservation area.
- Definition of tree for planning purposes.
- Forest ownership.
- Green belt.
- Ground heave.
- Listed buildings.
- Permission for felling or lopping a tree.
- Restrictive covenants.
- Right to light.
- Rights of way.
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
- Tree dripline.
- Tree preservation orders.
- Tree root subsidence.
- Trees in conservation areas.
 External references
- Access to Neighbouring Land Act.
- Practical Law: Restrictive covenant - interference with view?
Featured articles and news
There are many ways of classifying types of building. Have a look at our range of building articles.
BSRIA have launched the 'major update' of the go-to design framework guide for building services.
How to get results with building life cycle assessment.
Government publishes a prospectus inviting proposals for new 'garden communities'.
The Morandi motorway bridge in Genoa collapses during rainstorm while undergoing maintenance works.
'Developed design' is a phrase coined by the RIBA for their 2013 Plan of Work. But what does it actually mean?
New green paper published aiming to rebalance the relationship between landlords and residents and tackle stigma.
RIBA calls for a comprehensive ban on combustible materials.
Lump sum contracts can be referred to as ‘fixed price’ contracts, although strictly this is not correct. Find out more here.
Ramboll offer guidance to civil engineers on how to make projects 'off-site ready'.
Government announces its Rough Sleeping Strategy, with further funding for social housing.