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Trees on boundary

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
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LMS123LMS123 Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
Hi all.
My daughter is considering buying a house. The garden borders a pavement. There is no wall or fence. This boundary is a mix of hawthorn hedge and 5 or 6 huge sycamore trees. The present owner said the trees and hedge belong to the council and that the trees are protected. He said he's only seen the council cutting the hedge on the road side once or twice in 15 years. The trees are about 15 feet from the house. My daughter contacted the local borough council who said they don't own the land. She contacted the county council who said the land had belonged to the builder who has since ceased trading and suggested she contact the land registry to ascertain boundary lines. But it seems that the boundary is indistinct and the trees are on the boundary line.
My question is how does she find out who owns the trees. I know that branches overhanging your property can be removed and offered back to the land owner but these things are huge,mature sycamores!
She would like clarification as to who is responsible for the trees. The hedge is no problem to maintain, except it grows across the pavement, but it is manageable.
Would a tree surgeon be able to get access as to the tree ownership? You can bet your bottom dollar that all would be revealed were she to have the trees removed without permission!
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  • edited 13 October 2018 at 6:09PM
    G_MG_M Forumite
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    edited 13 October 2018 at 6:09PM
    If the boundary is indistinct then

    * claim the land via adverse possession? Will the sellers sign a Declaration that they have used the land as their own for the period they lived there?

    * just assume the land belongs to the property - sounds like the council don't care/want it and the builder has gone, so do wat you want with the plants

    * check if the trees are protected though - that IS a council matter and they will tell you yes or no.
    ** If I include a blue link in my post, click and read it before posting a follow-up question. The answer may be in the link! **
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    It'a almost certain the buyer of the house will own the trees if the council are denying responsibility. The last thing cash-strapped councils want is the maintenance of huge sycamore trees.

    As above, check there's no TPO and then factor-in the cost of removal, which will run into thousands, or else decide to live with one of the worst street/wildlife trees that will get aphids every year and disfigure everything placed under them.

    The clean-up after leaf-fall and the continual removal of seedlings should be considered too, along with a potential threat to foundations and drains.

    Not exactly selling them to you am I?:o
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  • LMS123LMS123 Forumite
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    Thanks. Her friend's husband is a solicitor so he's going to try a few enquiries. Meanwhile I've suggested she gets a quote from a tree surgeon as to possible cost of removal but I suspect he would want proof of ownership, so to speak. I keep steering her away from this property - life has enough hassles!
  • 25_Years_On25_Years_On Forumite
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    You said they were protected so I assume Tree Protection Orders. This requires permission even to prune them.
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    You said they were protected so I assume Tree Protection Orders. This requires permission even to prune them.
    The OP has been told the trees are protected, but that's not proof, which is why we've been suggesting more checks before doing anything else. The tree officer at the council is the person to consult.

    Our vendor told us the elm hedge we now own and preserve was specially protected because of its relative rarity, but that turned out not to be true.
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  • EachPennyEachPenny Forumite
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    Davesnave wrote: »
    The OP has been told the trees are protected, but that's not proof, which is why we've been suggesting more checks before doing anything else. The tree officer at the council is the person to consult.

    Our vendor told us the elm hedge we now own and preserve was specially protected because of its relative rarity, but that turned out not to be true.
    Absolutely this. Confirmation preferably in writing (exchange of emails) that the trees are not protected and not owned by the council.

    Some councils have a geographic information system (GIS) which is available to the public via the council website. Often this will include information about trees (usually in planning related layers) which are protected or of special interest. I wouldn't take the absence of a tree on GIS as proof it isn't protected, but if it is shown that way then it is very likely to be so.
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  • da_ruleda_rule Forumite
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    Another matter to consider is that if they are partly on the pavement they may also be on highway land. Therefore, regardless of who owns the land, your local highways authority will have a certain level of responsibility for maintenance.
  • LMS123LMS123 Forumite
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    Ok. It transpires the hedge and trees are on a strip of land owned by a green space land holding company. No annual fee is paid to them and they don't seem to look after the land but they own it.
    What sort of house buying survey would report on the trees if they were thought to be a problem now or in the future? Would the mortgage valuation report look at the trees or will my daughter have to pay for a more thorough survey? How much do surveys look at surrounding land if e.g. Trees affect the valuation or could possibly cause future problems?
  • sevenhillssevenhills Forumite
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    LMS123 wrote: »
    The trees are about 15 feet from the house.


    If they are huge and 15ft from the house, it's likely that they are overhanging the nearby pavement and house!
    When I reported a few sycamores overhanging the pavement, they just chopped them down.

  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    LMS123 wrote: »
    Ok. It transpires the hedge and trees are on a strip of land owned by a green space land holding company. No annual fee is paid to them and they don't seem to look after the land but they own it.
    So, this is the 'protection,' I suppose. The future owner of this house will have no rights over the trees, beyond being able to prune them back to the boundary. Good luck with that!

    Surveyors aren't tree surgeons and aborists aren't surveyors, but both will have a general understanding that large tree 15' from a house could spell trouble, though unless or until it occurs, either with the drains or the foundations, there's nothing to report.

    In any event, the annoyances mentioned in my earlier post will be evident.

    Usually, houses that are cheap for their type and location have a down-side. This isn't one I'd be willing to live with myself.
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