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Gimlet

Dangerous tree on neighbour's property

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There is a large tree on the property next door to my mother's house that has got me worried. It looks to be some sort of prunus from the leaves but it's very large, must be 35 to 40 feet high and the trunk is about 18" thick. It is certainly taller than mother's house and is less than 5 metres from the building. The proximity to her foundations has has always caused me concern but I've just noticed it is leaning alarmingly as well, and towards her house. If it were to fall it would cause serious structural damage and since it would land on the back yard, back door and utility room which are all in constant use, there is a potential danger to life as well.

Naturally I would like to see the tree come down and would be perfectly willing to do it myself at my own expense if the neighbour can't manage it.

 

The problem is, the neighbour died a few months ago after a long illness. We learned after his death that he had taken out equity release on the house and presumably he must have taken out most of the property's market value because on his death an insolvency firm took possession of the place. The lady he was living with, who he wasn't married to and who had no legal claim on the house, was permitted to remove her own personal possessions but nothing else, then the locks were changed and legal notices and keep out signs went up. To make things worse we are in a conservation area.

 

I am certain this tree poses a potential risk to life and a danger to property and I'd like it removed as soon as possible. The leaves haven't dropped and we're experiencing high winds which are pushing it further towards mother's house. In the circumstances I daren't just go and drop the thing myself, though I'm sorely tempted. But what should I do? The neighbour is dead, god knows what the legal position is with the insolvency firm and I'm unsure whether to consult the tree officer in the first instance. She is quite officious and I want to make sure I have the best case and not make matters worse. Where do I start?

I'd be really grateful for any advise.

Edited by Gimlet

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What's my legal position though?

 

Previous owner deceased, house unoccupied and in receivership, tree in conservation area..

 

If a qualified tree surgeon condemns the tree on safety grounds, can I legally have it felled?

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A quick google comes up with the "LOCAL GOVERNMENT (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) ACT 1976" and this is taken from Dorset Council, https://moderngov.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/documents/s6023/TreePolicies.pdf

Quote

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) ACT 1976This Act allows the Council to deal with dangerous trees located on private land. Trees are the responsibility of the person who owns the land on which they are growing. However, if a tree on private land becomes dangerous in a way that could harm someone else or their property and the owner does not appear to be doing anything about it, the Council may act to make the tree safe. This can be by serving a notice on the owner to make the tree safe or, in exceptional circumstances, the Council can deal with the tree themselves and recover costs from the owner. These powers are used as a last resort and are only intended for situations when there is an imminent danger.

 

 

 

Edited by Paul in the woods

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This is what I would do if I was in the same position.

Check if the tree is in a conservation area or covered by a TPO. If it is, I would contact the LA first.

 

If the tree is not protected I would get an Arboricultural survey done on the tree and if it is recommended for a fell, get a tree surgeon to fell it.

If it is dangerous make sure the survey states it will cause damage to your property if it falls over.

Do not get a tree surgeon that is in anyway linked the company that carried out the survey.

 

I would not  know how I stand legally with this but I would take the chance all things considered.

The above statement is not a recommendation to you or anybody else.

 

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There must be contact details for the home owners on at least one of the 'legal notices': contact them asap, preferably in an auditable way, and make them aware of both the situation (they're probably unaware) and their responsibilties.  Be polite but firm and emphasise the urgency.

If they don't respond v quickly and positively it looks like the LA should be your next port of call given the above legislation.

The fact that the tree is in a CA means you need to inform them anyway of any intended removal of the tree.

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Thanks. I'll check for contact details tomorrow. I may as well contact the LA anyway as they're going to have to be involved at some point. They may have the owners details as well. They must have been notified.

 

Actually it would be nice if the tree officer could condemn the tree so I didn't have to get an arb survey. 

Edited by Gimlet
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