Posted 7th May 2018
The Bank Holiday is ideal for carrying out garden tasks you've been putting off for a while
However, home owners are being warned of eight surprising ways they could be breaking the law in their own gardens. There's a list of eight things you should avoid doing in their gardens this spring and summer if they want to stay on the right side of the law.
For instance, a person can cut back the tree branches overhanging their garden, so long as they do not go past the boundary line and there's no Tree Preservation Order in pace. However, they cannot throw the branches back into the tree owner's garden unless they have permission to do so, nor can they keep the trimmings or any fruit or flowers that are found on them.
A spokesman said: "It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just because you own or rent your property, you’re well within your rights to do whatever you want in it – including in your garden."
"But the fact of the matter is that if you have neighbours – which most Brits will – you have to be mindful of their rights too."
"On the other hand, there may be times when it would be within your legal right to take action if your neighbour has acted beyond the law, but it could cause tensions."
“We’d always advise trying to come to a neighbourly solution first, as this is always preferable to having to call in the lawyers."
"If you brush up on the law as it stands, you may be able to avoid any sort of dispute altogether, which is always the ideal solution."
1 Trimming branches
If a tree has branches that are overhanging your property, you can trim them but only up to the property line. You can't lean into your neighbour's garden to do this either, as that would constitute trespassing. You also need to ensure the tree isn't covered by a Tree Preservation Order - if it is, you cannot cut the branches.
2 Keeping branches
While you can cut branches that hang into your garden up to the property line, they still belong to the neighbour - as do any flowers or fruits on them.
Your neighbour will be legally entitled to ask for them back, so you can't stockpile them for your new bonfire. However, you cannot throw them into the neighbour's garden - this constitutes fly tipping.
The same applies to hedges - if a hedge grows along the boundary between two gardens, both neighbours will be responsible for trimming. If a hedge belonging to a neighbour grows into your garden, you may trim it, but again, you must return the trimmings to the owner.
3 Windfallen fruit
Windfallen fruit will technically belong to the person who owns the tree. If your neighbour's windfall ends up on your lawn, you should ask for permission if you want to keep it.
4 New trees
The Rights of Light Act states that if a window receives natural light for 20 years or more, you and your neighbour cannot block it with a new tree.
5 Fences and boundaries
This can be a tricky issue to resolve. House deeds indicate who owns fences and will be responsible for boundaries (although there is no legal responsibility to keep boundaries well maintained, unless the deeds say otherwise). However, they move over time, causing later disputes. If it comes to it, you may need to contact HM Land Registry for help.
6 Hot tubs
While a hot tub will be a relaxing pleasure for most of us, it creates a noise that could constitute a nuisance to your neighbours. Therefore, check they have no objections to you installing one before you go ahead.
When you're hosting a family barbecue or are looking to relax next to a chiminea in the garden, smoke can be a nuisance to your neighbours.
When you're placing a trampoline, try to avoid putting it where they can see into your neighbours' gardens or houses when they're bouncing away - this would affect their right to privacy.