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August 13, 2015

Overhanging Trees

I am often consulted by disgruntled clients who complain that the branches of neighbour's trees hang into their properties.  Generally, the basis for such complaint is that the leaves from such branches clog up their swimming pools or block out the natural sunlight.

You are perfectly entitled to insist that the overhanging branches be sawn off by your neighbour.  If he refuses to do so, you could obtain a Court Order compelling him to do so or, alternatively, may, yourself, lop off the branches where they encroach onto your property.  If your neighbour refuses to co-operate, you would also be entitled to recover from him all reasonable expenses incurred in removing the branches.

In similar fashion, if roots from your neighbour's tree encroach onto your property, you may request your neighbour to remove such roots (or may remove them yourself).  If such roots have caused damaged to your property, you are entitled to claim compensation.

Although you are entitled to have overhanging branches removed, you have no cause of action if leaves from your neighbour's tree clog up the weir in your swimming pool or block your gutters. This is so, because our Courts have held that through the simple expedient of removing the leaves from the surface of the swimming pool or cleaning out the gutters, damage could be avoided.

As a general rule, there is, unfortunately, nothing you can do to prevent your neighbour from growing large trees on his property if such trees obstruct your view or block out sunlight.

Obviously, for the sake of peace and in the interests of loving your neighbour, any possible dispute should, in the first instance, be resolved with your neighbour over a cup of tea.


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