How Not to Sue Your Neighbour: Part 2Posted: 18th October 2016
Following on from our previous blog on How Not To Sue Your Neighbour, we decided to look at some of the most common grievances that neighbours have, concerning their boundaries.
Q: My neighbours’ Leylandii have grown to such a height that they make our garden dark and gloomy.
A: If you’ve already talked to the neighbour and they aren’t sympathetic, the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 allows you to ask the local authority to serve a remedial notice. For this tactic to apply, there have to be at least two evergreens over 2m high, which are blocking your light.
Q: My neighbours’ trees and bushes overhang the boundary and take up space in our garden.
A: The principle of self-help gives you the right to cut off overhanging branches. The cut branches belong to your neighbour and you are supposed to offer them back. It is sometimes said that you are allowed to throw the cut branches back over onto your neighbour’s side – this might be legally correct, but will probably annoy your neighbour unnecessarily!
Q: My neighbour is building an extension right on the boundary line between our two properties and I am worried that it will affect my house or land.
A: The Party Wall Act 1996 contains a procedure for you and your neighbour jointly to appoint a surveyor who will visit your property and make sure that any contentious points are sorted out.
Q: My neighbour and I don’t see eye to eye about where the correct line of the boundary is.
A: The Land Registry can help determine this. If it is a case where one side has “extra” land included on their side of the boundary, they may be entitled to keep it if they believed they were the owner, going back at least ten years. The rules under the Land Registration Act 2002 are a little bit tricky and this might be one to ask a solicitor about.
Q: The neighbour’s old willow tree grows right up against the boundary and someone told me that the roots could be causing subsidence on our land.
A: Tree roots can cause subsidence in clay soils by drawing moisture out. The same principle of self-help applies as for branches, but with a mature tree it is prudent to get an expert arboriculturalist involved. When a tree is damaged by cutting roots its natural response is to repair the damage – this may mean that it works hard at growing new roots and takes even more moisture out than it did before.
Q: We’ve seen the plans for the new extension next door and it looks as if it will block our lovely view down the valley, as well as making our kitchen dark.
A: Unfortunately there is no legal right to a view, but if your kitchen windows have been in existence for over 20 years, your property has a right to light through them. You might be able to use this to negotiate an alteration in the neighbour’s plans.
Everyone’s circumstances are different and this round-up is just to give a flavour of the sort of questions which can crop up. It isn’t a substitute for legal advice. Please don’t hesitate to ask us if one of these situations applies to you – we will do our best to help.