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The guy next door has plant what I think is a broad leaved willow( goat willow??) about a metre away from my 150 year old cottage. His is a recently (10yr) new build and it is built on higher(1ft approx )ground than my house. We have a heavy clay soil and I am worried that this tree,which is now nearly as tall as my house in just 3 yrs of its growth, is going to cause serious damage to my house and the foundations. I have voiced my concerns regarding damage and he had little to offer except to cut a couple of branches off which just grew back with vigour.His privacy is very important to him and so now all I see from my bedroom window are the branches of the tree which are nearly touching my window. I am unsure where to go for advice without it costing me a fortune and should I contact my insurance company ,or will this just put my premiums up? 


  • BenDoverBenDover Posts: 484

    Goat willow can be shallow rooted but be aware that all willows like soil which gets plenty of water with the risk that if planted close to a house with excessive water coming off the eaves or if you already have broken drainage, the roots would be attracted to that which can cause problems later.

    What you can do quite legally is cut off branch and roots that come on to or ingress into your boundary, however, cutting the roots could cause the tree to be unsafe, so if it did topple over as a result of your action, you could be liable for any damages. You should talk to your neighbour and also be aware they are technically responsible for paying for the work to be done, although to be amicable, you could offer to pay half or all the cost if it is not excessive. If damage to your property has already occurred or occurs in future as a result of their tree, then your neighbour would be responsible for putting matters right.  If this was the case, then certainly get your insurers involved and also speak to your solicitors, especially if you have paid for 'legal' on your insurance policy.

    If you're worried about branches blocking light, then you could seek an injunction, to stop the tree from blocking light coming into your property, however, you may have to have evidence that you have enjoyed light coming into the window for up to 20 years.  This is called the Doctrine of Prescription. Be aware that the right-to-light is a vague test so it would probably need experts to provide evidence if you wanted to go do an injunction route.

  • BenDoverBenDover Posts: 484

    Forgot to say if you do cut off any roots and branches, you must offer them back to your neighbour otherwise he could try and get you done for theft.  Seriously! 

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,633

    Go to Citizen's Advice Bureau and your local council environment and/or neighbourhood services for mediation before you go down the insurance route.   Document dates and events and yes, cut back all the branches that encroach on your space but give them back.

    Try suggesting safe alternatives that will give him privacy without damaging your house or garden. - trellis with climbers, hedges on stilts and so on.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • BenDoverBenDover Posts: 484

    And, always a word of caution for any neighbour disputes.  Try and avoid them at all costs and if there is an issue, always try to resolve things amicably.  If you own your own home and then in future come to sell it, you have a responsibility to the person purchasing to inform them of wrangles with neighbours.  Some people take the information with a pinch of salt whilst others will run for the hills.  If you don't disclose a dispute and the buyer falls into the latter camp, you put yourself at risk if anything happens in the future with your neighbour and the new owner of your old property.

  • Thanks for the advice everyone. I have owned my cottage for over 20 years and I have no intention of selling in the future nor do my adult children who will inherit it. My cottage is also in a conservation area but not a listed building you think this may help my case if I got in touch with the Council? May be I should put my concerns to the neighbour in writing now as speaking to him before his privacy was the most important thing despite having a 6 ft fence up as well as the tree. I can see where he is coming from but I don`t see why anyone would buy a house that was overlooked and then plant a tree so close to the over looking  house!

    It has been suggested that I should have a building or tree survey done...but who should pay for this as it could be as much as £1000.

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