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BT phone line, trees and responsibility
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# 1
hebrideans
Old 10-08-2010, 7:46 PM
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Default BT phone line, trees and responsibility

Hi. I've been lurking here for a while but have never registered and wondered if the forum could offer me any words of wisdom. There is a similar issue on thread 2605757 but it doesn't quite answer my problem (sorry - not allowed to post links as new user).

In short, our phone line is being knocked by branches from a neighbour's tree which overhangs our drive. This causes the landline and broadband to be knocked out of action frequently for varying periods of time. The line is on poles which are very high, and which sit in our garden.

BT claims that our area of responsibility starts where the phone line crosses the boundary between the main road and our garden wall and therefore the responsibility for cutting down the trees lies solely with us.

Now, I had always understood that our responsibility for the line starts at our side of the master socket, which is in our house - and therefore the line on the poles being knocked by the trees is, in my logic, BT's responsibility.

The complication is that the trees, despite them hitting the line on the poles in our garden, belong to my neighbour.

Again, my own sense of logic says that BT's line is being damaged by my neighbour's trees and BT therefore need to ask my neighbour to trim his trees, or BT needs to trim the trees and bill my neighbour. I don't feel that we should be acting as intermediary between BT and my neighbour as the matter is a straightforward one between them.

How far out from the truth am I? Any help gratefully received.
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# 2
Mark_In_Hampshire
Old 10-08-2010, 8:41 PM
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I can see both sides of the argument. Afraid I don't have a categorical answer, though..

Openreach can and do charge for repairs to damage done to the line by the subscriber, which would include a tree on your property (your tree) damaging the line, which is reasonable enough, as you have a duty of care.

However if the tree belongs to your neighbour and is overhanging your drive, then you could presumably warn the neighbour and force them to trim it so it does not overhang your boundary, which would also solve the issue.

I presume there is some formal dispute process for this which has nothing to do with BT and everything to do with property boundaries, and means that you can force the neighbour to trim the tree or cut it down altogether, and if they refuse, perhaps you can cut away the bit that overhangs yourself. What's the expession... "the more arguments you win, the fewer friends you have"

Given that the landline was in place before the tree grew to that position (e.g. it came first - assumption, the line was not fitted in such a way that it was obviously going to be damaged from day one) it's a little disingenuous of your neighbour not to take responsibilty.

I can see why BT would refuse to re-site the line at their cost in these circumstances.

It would seem to come down to whose responsibility it is to pursue your neighbour either for the cost of resiting the line or removing the bit which overhangs.
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# 3
hebrideans
Old 10-08-2010, 9:12 PM
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Quote:
It would seem to come down to whose responsibility it is to pursue your neighbour either for the cost of resiting the line or removing the bit which overhangs.
Thanks Mark - agreed - that is the issue. I would like to think that it's BT's issue to talk to my neighbour as I don't believe I'm contractually involved in that discussion. With a bit of luck someone else who's had the same experience may come forward.
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# 4
macman
Old 11-08-2010, 7:20 AM
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You can of course trim the neighbour's overhanging branches without requiring his/her permission, as long as you offer the prunings back.
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# 5
Heinz
Old 11-08-2010, 7:45 AM
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macman's advice is not only correct, it's the obvious (and quickest) solution.

I regularly trim 2 neighbours' trees and bushes where they encroach over my boundary wall/fence.
Much of the advice on residential telephony I have given over the past 9 years or so is now gradually being overtaken by changes in the retail market. Hence, I have now deleted links to my previous 'pearls of wisdom'. I sincerely hope they helped save some of you money.
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Last edited by Heinz; 11-08-2010 at 7:48 AM.
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# 6
Sooler
Old 11-08-2010, 11:00 AM
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As said, you can trim the tree as soon as it comes over into your property

you ought to have kept it trimmed to prevent it from affecting the telephone lines.


just get the tree cut - job done - problem solved - easy
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# 7
hebrideans
Old 11-08-2010, 1:52 PM
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Quote:
macman's advice is not only correct, it's the obvious (and quickest) solution.
Quote:
just get the tree cut - job done - problem solved - easy
That's actually not the case - the trees (I should have been clear - there is more than one) are very mature and are therefore both extremely high and have heavy limbs. Cutting them down would be expensive for me and I believe the cost should be borne by my neighbour - which I believe is a discussion that BT should have with him.

But it would seem that the forum's advice is fairly clear so perhaps I should be listening...
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# 8
macman
Old 11-08-2010, 1:57 PM
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You can't compel the neighbour to have the trees pruned. I think that BT will take the view that as the damage is on your property then they will charge you (they're certainly entitled to charge one of you) You of course are then open to taking a civil action against your neighbour to recover the costs, which you would doubtless win-eventually and after much outlay.
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# 9
Heinz
Old 11-08-2010, 2:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macman View Post
You can't compel the neighbour to have the trees pruned. I think that BT will take the view that as the damage is on your property then they will charge you (they're certainly entitled to charge one of you) You of course are then open to taking a civil action against your neighbour to recover the costs, which you would doubtless win-eventually and after much outlay.
....... with near-the-surface (and on-going) animosity likely to remain thereafter.
Much of the advice on residential telephony I have given over the past 9 years or so is now gradually being overtaken by changes in the retail market. Hence, I have now deleted links to my previous 'pearls of wisdom'. I sincerely hope they helped save some of you money.
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# 10
Mark_In_Hampshire
Old 11-08-2010, 2:05 PM
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Interesting to see what others think. Personally, I think BT's position is reasonable and very much as macman says. That isn't an unequivocal answer from a legal standpoint, though. One other thing occurs to me which is that if the pole is quite near the boundary and if the answer were to not cut the trees, but resite the pole, and that meant the pole ended up in the centre of your garden or in a worse position than now, that wouldn't be an attractive option, and is not something you should have to tolerate when the issue is being caused by the neighbour.
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# 11
Torry Quine
Old 11-08-2010, 2:07 PM
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Have you actually spoken to your neighbour about the problem as he may not be aware. He may just be amenable to getting them trimmed back.
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# 12
hebrideans
Old 11-08-2010, 3:23 PM
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Thanks for all the replies. Without giving away too many details my neighbour is a large landowner who lives a considerable distance from my house & garden and whom I have only met once (and dealt with on the phone once or twice). He has in the past taken a distinctly negative view on the subject of sharing any form of maintenance costs and I suspect I know where this one will end up too. While we have not fallen out I would prefer that BT dealt with the source of the problem directly. Perhaps that makes the background for my question clearer.

Either way I have a suspicion that I am going to end up forking out to have his trees pruned... I'm just trying to get my facts together before I speak any further either with BT, or approach my neighbour.
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