My neighbour has chopped down my hedge and I want compensation – what are my rights?

HEDGES can form a natural border between gardens but they are also a growing source of disputes between neighbours.

One person was left furious after the neighbour chopped down their hedge while they were away.

They took to the internet seeking advice on whether they could get any compensation in such a situation.

The homeowner wrote to The Telegraph: "I returned home from work to find my neighbour had trespassed onto my property and cut down a hedgerow.

They said his mixture of wild trees was "a haven for wildlife" and stood at around 12ft, but the neighbour chopped this to 6ft and in some instances, down to 3ft.

"He hadn’t spoken to me about it in advance and this is way beyond trimming of overhanging branches," the disgruntled homeowner added.

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So what are you rights if this happens to you?

Disputes over hedges are not uncommon – a Quora user recently got into a heated situation after his neighbour demanded he cuts down his trees as they want to build a swimming pool.

Meanwhile, another household were angry because their neighbour’s tree blocks the sunlight coming into their garden.

It’s a good idea to find out what you can do if you and your neighbour have any disagreement about hedges and trees on the properties.

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Are you allowed to cut neighbour's trees?

Legally, homeowners are allowed to trim back any branches or roots that cross into their property.

But one can only trim up to what's theirs.

Therefore it's important to find out the ownership of the hedge and boundaries.

This can be done by checking the deeds to a property.

If you haven't already got these, you can purchase them from the Land Registry on the government's website.

Joanne Ellis, partner in the dispute resolution team at solicitor Stephensons suggests checking whether the hedge cut was overhung onto the neighbour's property.

She said: "If the branches that have been cut overhung onto the neighbours property then the neighbour was perfectly entitled to cut the tree.

"If the branches that were cut were not overhanging the neighbours property it may amount to trespass and it is possible to get an injunction preventing any further trespass, if that seems a threat."

Is the hedge protected?

Another thing you need to do is to see if the hedge is protected by checking whether there is a tree preservation order or whether it's in a conservation area.

You can do this by asking your local council to check on the local map of your area.

If the hedge is protected, the neighbour should also not carry out any work to it without permission from the local authority.

Could I get compensation?

It may seem obvious but talking to your neighbours could prevent any escalation of the matter – so ask them to explain their action and see them if they're willing to offer a solution. 

But if there is no way to resolve it easily and you would like to take legal action, it's worth noting that whether your compensation claims can succeed will depend on the court’s view of the extent of damage.

"The damages will not be significant unless irreversible harm has been done to the trees, in which case it may be possible to claim for the reasonable costs of replacement, " Joanne said.

"An ‘aggravated’ damages award can be made in exceptional circumstances in a trespass case when the trespass has been particularly menacing."

Here are your rights if your neighbour’s garden room overhangs onto your property.

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Driveways can also cause problems – we explain what you can do if your neighbour keeps blocking your driveway.

For others, nosey neighbours are an issue, check out what can be done to alleviate the problem.

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