The Trees and High Hedges Act 2005
The Trees and High Hedges Act 2005 provides a mechanism for dealing with problems with high hedges and trees. The Act applies to owners and occupiers of domestic properties so it makes no difference whether you own or rent your property.
The Act applies where the reasonable enjoyment of part or all of a property, including a garden or part of it, is being adversely affected by a tree or a high hedge situated on neighbouring land.
The Act defines a high hedge as being 2 or more trees or shrubs over 2 metres high above ground level and which act a barrier to light. Hedges lower than 2 metres are not, therefore, covered by the Act.
How do I make a complaint under the Trees and High Hedges Act?
Under the Act you are expected to take reasonable steps to try to resolve the matter with your neighbour. Ordinarily this will involve talking to your neighbour about the problem and if that does not resolve the matter, writing to them setting out why you consider the hedge to be affecting the reasonable enjoyment of your property and what steps you would like your neighbour to take in order to address the problem and by when.
When setting a deadline for such steps you should consider how long the work is likely to take, whether your neighbour is likely to have to employ someone to carry out the work, whether it is reasonable to expect your neighbour to carry out the work at a particular time of the year or in certain weather conditions. If you do not take such matters into account and set a short deadline you may be viewed as not being reasonable.
If you are unable to resolve the matter with your neighbour a complaint may then be made to the Department of Local Government & the Environment accompanied by a fee.
Does the Department of Local Government & the Environment proceed with all complaints?
The Department of Local Government & the Environment may not proceed with a complaint if it takes the view that a person has not taken all reasonable steps to resolve the matter with their neighbour.
The Department of Local Government & the Environment may not proceed with a complaint if it is of the opinion that the complaint is petty or that the purpose of the complaint is simply to cause problems for the neighbour.
If the Department of Local Government & the Environment decides to proceed with my complaint what happens next?
If the Department of Local Government & the Environment decides to proceed with your complaint it will decide whether the high hedge is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of your property. It will generally visit your property and your neighbour’s property before making a decision. The Department of Local Government & the Environment has the power to enter onto your neighbour’s property for this purpose providing that it has first given your neighbour 24 hours notice.
In reaching a decision the Department of Local Government & the Environment will take into account, not only the effect the hedge is having on your property, but also the effect that a reduction in height of the hedge will have on your neighbour’s privacy.
For more information on:
- Remedial Notices
- No action to be taken
- What if my neighbour fails to comply with the remedial notice?