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Lady Python

Dangerous Trees

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This is probably not the place to put this but I'm sure the Mods will move it to a relevant section.

 

I live in a council house.  I'm flanked by two privately owned ex-council houses.  One of them has the dreaded Leylandii trees which have grown completely out of control.  The tallest is 80ft high and the rest, 5 of them approx 60ft high.  I've been asking him for years to have them cut to a reasonable size or remove them.  That's fallen on deaf ears.

 

The issue is this.  The trees have become dangerous.  They have exposed roots at the back and the trees are rotten.  Three large boughs have fallen off the 80ft tree and have landed in my garden, just missing my greenhouse after the last storm we had.  The day they came down, it wasn't even windy.  If the 80ft tree comes down, it will hit our house.  One of the trees fell down 18 months ago but fortunately landed in their own garden and didn't do any damage.  It did take half the branches of the 80ft tree with it so if that tree comes down, it will hit our property.

 

I have reported it to the Council but they seem to think I'm complaining about the trees cutting out light and blocking my view - despite my telling them emphatically that the trees are dangerous.  They sent me Healthy Neighbourhood information that states I have to pay £375 to make a complaint!

 

Surely there must be something in Law that relates to dangerous trees and can force the owner to have them cut down or the Council do it then bill the owner.

 

Any advice on this would be appreciated.

 

Lady Python

 

Edited by Lady Python

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Will have a look around and see if there are any rules about this – but I would certainly make a formal complaint to the local council and tell them that you wanted to go to the local authority ombudsman as they are not paying attention to the issues raised in your complaint. Maybe that will focus them


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http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1976/57/part/I/crossheading/dangerous-trees-and-excavations

 

Also....

Common law responsibilities and issues involving private nuisance have to be enforced through the civil courts, by pursuing an action against the owner of the tree or hedge for nuisance and/or negligence. This has to be done by the person suffering the loss. 

The law on nuisance/negligence is complicated and anyone considering such action is advised to seek advice from a solicitor.

 

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Thanks good people.

 

Since I wrote the post I have spoken with our local Councillor and sent him pics of the offending trees, including the erosion of the soil at their roots.  He thinks, because they are dangerous and if the big one comes down it will hit Council property (i.e. our house) then the Council can either force the owner to remove the trees or the Council can cut the trees down and bill the owner.  He's not 100% sure but is going to find out asap and get back to me.

 

I really am worried that these trees are going to come down and I'd rather not be squashed by a falling tree or see any of my family get injured or killed because of the next door owner's apathy.

 

I'll let you know what transpires.

 

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Hi

 

It amazes me how they pass the buck as they don't want to deal with a private homeowner but if the shoe was on the other foot they would be hammering down on you for breach of tenancy.

 

As this is council housing you need to make a Formal Complaint in writing to the Council Housing about this (as a social housing landlord they have a complaints process they have to follow). you need to exhaust their complaints process. Make sure and title your letter Formal Complaint.

 

From what you have posted this tree is not just a nuisance but also a Health & Safety risk:

 

1. The tree being overgrown is now a danger to the occupants/Guest/Visitors to your property

 

2. The tree has overgrown into the Council Housings Boundaries your property causing damage/endangerment to the occupants/guest/visitors.

 

3. As the roots of the tree are also overgrown into your property you have concerns that these may be causing/damaging to any underground pipework that may be within the boundray of the property.

 

4. So far the Councils actions have been to treat their Council Housing tenant as a third class citizen with a private homeowner aloud to cause endangerment/possible damage due to these overgrown trees which are encroaching on your council house property/bounderies.

 

You also require clarification why you were sent the Healthy Neighbourhood Information which states I have to pay £375 to make a complaint. (make sure and attach a copy of the response that states this cost)

 

You also require copies of the following:

 

1. Complaints Policy (not the leaflet)
2. Customer Service Standard (not the leaflet)
3. Health & Safety Policy (not the leaflet)
4. Public Liability Insurance Policy. (not the leaflet)
5. Clarification from you if their is any underground pipeworks running through the bounderies within the garden area (you should have full knowledge of this
it being your property/plans)
6. Compensation Policy (not the leaaflet)
7. Equality & Diversity Policy (not the leaflet)

 

When you get the above policies sit with a pen/pencil/highlighter and take you time reading them and just think to yourself 'DID THEY DO THAT' if not mark it then leave it for a while then do the same again this way you can basically throw/write back stating the haven't followed x policy with which part of that policy and your reason. (you are building evidence to use against them using their own policies.


I would also like to refer you to The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1976:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1976/57/part/I/crossheading/dangerous-trees-and-excavations

 

 

You need to remember yes it is the Council but the Council Housing is a separate entity and is a Registered Social Landlord (RSL)

 

Is the Council Housing classed as a registered Charity? (what is their registration number whether charity or RSL?)

 

Also have a wee look at this CAG link: 

 

 

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I feel that people are focusing too much on the OPs property being a council house and putting responsibility on the council to resolve this.

 

imagine for a moment that the OPs house is privately owned, now what powers would they have to take action on the trees? Pretty much none without taking the tree owner to court right. Well as the trees are privately owned, that is the same power that the council have right now.

 

the information with the £375 will be inline with high hedges legislation as this will be the only power the council will have and it is common for there to be a charge for this.

 

this is not a social housing issue, but a neighbor dispute with a private homeowner.

 

i used to work as a tree officer for a local authority and from experience have seen that people’s idea of dangerous and what is actually dangerous are two different issues. A councils power to enforce tree works are also limited and will usually only be where a private tree poses a risk to the highway, not to another property as that is a civil matter (even where the council own the 2nd property). 

 

With regards to risk to underground pipes, this is something you will be unlikely to successfully argue as various studies have found that unless a tree is planted on top of the pipe and crush it, the roots will not cause damage, but rather only enter through already damaged areas as they are opportunistic, any tree roots in drains are usually a secondary issue where a pipe had existing damage and to resolve it will require a permanent repair to the pipe to prevent recurrence.

 

the only options i see here are to calculate the height allowed under high hedges legislation (it varies depending on what direction the property faces , the location of hedges etc) and try to enforce that which will involve the fee. Otherwise there is little you can do as the private homeowner has a right to have trees in their garden although they may be liable if they were to cause damage to your property (such as a shed) or the councils property in the future.

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10 hours ago, farmlama said:

 

 

The tallest tree is 80ft high and the trunk is red rotten.  The trees are all dying.  To the rear of the trees, they are on a steep slope.  My son went round the back and photographed them yesterday.  The roots are all exposed and the soil has eroded away.  These trees are in grave danger of falling down.  It's in the hands of our local Councillor at the moment so waiting to hear back from him.  I would attach pics but they are slightly too big (6.25mb) then you could see the problem.

 

I see your point but when something becomes a danger to life and property and is not a neighbour dispute, then surely there is something in Law for this?

 

If it was just that the trees were blocking light/views then yes, that would definitely be a civil matter but as I've said, then they become a danger and a menace that is a different ball game, or at least I would think so.

 

 

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Lady P, I've removed your quote of farmlama's post. It's the one above yours so it's clear what you're replying to, plus it makes the thread longer than it needs to be.

 

HB


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But if the trees are dangerous, that is an issue for you to take up with the owner of the trees.

 

the council in their role as your landlord do not have any more power than a private landlord or private home owner would have to enforce another private owner to do something.

 

thiis is a civil matter neighbor dispute, not a tenancy issue with the council.

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Essentially while a council may in theory be able to enforce works, there is no legal duty for them to do so and most councils will not offer this service as they have such limited resources as it is and if they offer it to you, they will need to offer it to others with private disputes and it opens up a whole new can of worms.

 

in addition, if they were to take enforcement action, this will be a complete separate department to the housing team and the status of your tenancy doesn’t come into it.

 

the duty to ensure the tree is correctly maintained is on the tree owner and should the tree fall then and damages will be the responsibility of the tree owner if they are found negligent

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Yes, it is the owner's responsibility and I've been on at him for years to at least get the trees pruned back before they became a problem - which they certainly are now.

 

He doesn't live in the house and hasn't for about 3 or 4 years.  He lets it out to his brother who has also told him to do something about the trees.  The branches fell down 2 weeks ago and no attempt to remove them (or repair the fence that got damaged) has happened.  I honestly don't think he realises just how dangerous the trees are.

 

Something being done about the trees will be a bit late when our house gets destroyed and we get killed!!!

 

We'll see what our Councillor comes back with and I'll post his response when I get it.  In the meantime, let's hope we don't get any more high winds and that we don't get a dump of snow, the weight of snow could be enough to bring the things down!

 

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Hi Lady Python

 

Yes it is the private homeowners responsible for maintaining the tree.

 

Yes it is a neighbour dispute

 

I completely stand by my post as farmlama that used to be a tree officer for the council seems to be treating this as a council issue and seems to forget you are a Tenant of a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) Council Housing.

 

Just to be even more clear the Council Housing and the Council are entirely two separate entities and as this is a Health & Safety Risk as per my previous post you take this matter up with the Council Housing (RSL) as it is their Property and for them to deal with.

 

You have also done the correct thing in getting your councillor involved as well so wait and see what they do but please follow up what I stated in post#5 if you have not already done so.

 

 


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6 hours ago, stu007 said:

Hi Lady Python

 

Yes it is the private homeowners responsible for maintaining the tree.

 

Yes it is a neighbour dispute

 

I completely stand by my post as farmlama that used to be a tree officer for the council seems to be treating this as a council issue and seems to forget you are a Tenant of a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) Council Housing.

 

Just to be even more clear the Council Housing and the Council are entirely two separate entities and as this is a Health & Safety Risk as per my previous post you take this matter up with the Council Housing (RSL) as it is their Property and for them to deal with.

 

You have also done the correct thing in getting your councillor involved as well so wait and see what they do but please follow up what I stated in post#5 if you have not already done so.

 

 

But the trees are not the councils property to deal with, they are the neighbors property. If the op was private renting, you wouldn’t expect the private landlord to cut down someone else’s trees and it’s no different because the council are the landlord. 

Yes the council have responsibilities for their property, but these trees aren’t their property so you seem to be providing misleading advice here about the social housing aspect.

 

the councillor may have some sway to get the council to take enforcement action, but this will be nothing to do with it being a council house and isn’t guaranteed as there is no legal duty for the council do do so and the council will likely have policies where they aim to provide a consistent service to all which could mean that they do not get involved in any neighbor disputes even where they have the right (but not obligation) to do so. Each council will have different policies etc, so there is a slim chance they will intervene, I’m just being realistic here so that the op knows what to expect and doesn’t waste time pursuing a lost cause.

 

 

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Also we do not know what council we are speaking about so it is unclear if the council housing is a separate entity. 

 

Take for example the bourough council where I live (I am also in a council house). About 10 years ago the housing section formed into a private company that was separate from the council itself, however for whatever reason the private company didn’t work and the services then were taken back over by the council, and so where I live, the council and the landlord are one and the same, this however would not change their position on responsibility for a private tree. I was a tree officer in the borough I live and we did deal with issues relating to trees in council tenants own gardens (as the council were the owners of them trees they had a responsibility) but anything on private land wouldn’t be considered unless it was high hedges and then the complainer would need to pay a fee as the op has been advised here

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Posted (edited)

Hi everyone.

 

Here's the latest update on those trees.  Firstly, they are not a high hedge - they are 80ft trees that are in a dangerous condition.

 

Secondly, my councillor contacted the council on my behalf.  Their response to him was they would get in touch with me.  I am still waiting.

 

I have had more words with my neighbour (we get on quite well) and he, in turn had a go at his brother.  This morning I was awoken early on to the wonderful sound of a chainsaw.  Oh good, I thought.  They're doing something about the trees at last.  No such luck unfortunately.  All they've done is removed the 3 large branches from my garden.  Well, I suppose that's a step in the right direction.  At the time of writing this I haven't seen my neighbour yet so not sure what else they've got planned for the trees but I will update you later when I find out.

 

Just an add on.  Our Council is the Landlord.

Edited by Lady Python

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2 minutes ago, Lady Python said:

Hi everyone.

 

Here's the latest update on those trees.  Firstly, they are not a high hedge - they are 80ft trees that are in a dangerous condition.

 

Secondly, my councillor contacted the council on my behalf.  Their response to him was they would get in touch with me.  I am still waiting.

 

I have had more words with my neighbour (we get on quite well) and he, in turn had a go at his brother.  This morning I was awoken early on to the wonderful sound of a chainsaw.  Oh good, I thought.  They're doing something about the trees at last.  No such luck unfortunately.  All they've done is removed the 3 large branches from my garden.  Well, I suppose that's a step in the right direction.  At the time of writing this I haven't seen my neighbour yet so not sure what else they've got planned for the trees but I will update you later when I find out.

A high hedge would mean two or more coniferous trees and therefore high hedges legislation would apply. A row of trees can be regarded as a hedge regardless of height

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Posted (edited)

Hi Farmlama.  Thanks for your response.

 

When is a tree not a tree?  When it's a hedge!

 

Quirk in the Law methinks.  However, Leylandii by Law cannot exceed 20ft.  If this things were just 20ft there wouldn't be a problem at all but 80ft, dying and rotten?  BIG problem!

Edited by Lady Python

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