How do you complain about your neighbour's hedges? What is the legislation? Here we give you all the facts and guidance on how to deal with such an issue.
The council has the power, under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 and the High Hedges Regulations 2005, to deal with complaints about high hedges which affect residential properties.
What is a high hedge?
To be covered by this legislation a hedge needs, as a result of its height, to be acting as a barrier to light or access to the extent that a person's reasonable enjoyment of their property is being adversely affected. The hedge must be made up of all or a majority of evergreen or semi-evergreen species, over 2 metres in height and formed of a line of two or more trees or shrubs. Examples of evergreen species regularly used in hedging are: leylandii, holly, yew and laurel. An example of a semi-evergreen is privet which does not lose its leaves in winter in this part of the UK. Species such as beech which retain dead leaves over winter do not meet the definition, nor do species such as ivy which are not self-supporting.
What are the first steps to take to resolve a high hedge problem?
The legislation requires the complainant(s) to have attempted to resolve the high hedge issue by negotiation with the hedge owner(s). It must include two or more attempts to secure a solution, before a formal application for investigation can be made. Many people affected by high hedges are reluctant to do this, often due to poor neighbour relations or through not wanting to upset their neighbours. This is, however, a necessary part of the process and must be undertaken.
What happens if the complaint cannot be resolved by negotiation?
If all avenues for resolving the hedge dispute have been exhausted then an application for investigation can be made in writing to the council.
The role of the council is not to mediate or negotiate between the complainant and the hedge owner but to adjudicate on whether - in the words of the Act - the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of their property. In doing so, the authority must take account of all relevant factors and must strike a balance between the competing interests of the complainant and hedge owner, as well as the interests of the wider community.
If circumstances justify it, the council will issue a formal notice to the hedge owner which will set out what they must do to the hedge to remedy the problem within a set deadline
Failure to carry out the works required by the authority is an offence which, on prosecution, could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.
How much does it cost to submit a complaint to the Council?
A fee of £600 must be paid before we will investigate your complaint.