Hedging your bets...

My garden is surrounded by hedges and my neighbours have been threatening me with an Asbo unless I cut them back. Surely they can't do this?

My garden is surrounded by hedges and my neighbours have been threatening me with an Asbo unless I cut them back. Surely they can't do this?

Since June 1 2005, neighbours have been able to take a complaint about a neighbour's evergreen hedge to their local authority. Councils cannot, however, serve an Asbo on someone for having a high hedge, but the new legislation is contained in the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.

My neighbours tell me I will have to reduce the hedge down to two metres, is this correct?

If they complain to the council, it does not automatically follow that the council will order you to reduce the height of the hedge.

They will consider all the issues. There are calculations you can carry out to find out what height the hedge should be if it is not to block out too much daylight and sunshine. Your neighbours should bear in mind that the legislation does not guarantee access to uninterrupted light.

The hedge is made up of different trees. Which ones are covered by the legislation?

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Only evergreen hedges or semi-evergreen - not, for example, beech hedges, nor bamboo nor ivy (which is a climber needing support to give it height), nor single trees.

What is the role of the council?

The council will not mediate nor negotiate between you and your neighbours but they will adjudicate on whether the hedge is adversely affecting your neighbour's reasonable enjoyment of their property.

The council will ask for your comments on the points made in the complaint. You should explain how the hedge contributes to your enjoyment of your home and what effect it would have on you if the height were reduced.

What will the council do if they agree with my neighbours that the hedge is too high?

The council will issue a formal notice to you that will set out what you must do to the hedge to remedy the problem and by when.

Failure to carry out the required works is an offence that, on prosecution, could lead to a fine of up to £1000.

t Philippa Rudd is a Partner with Cozens-Hardy & Jewson Solicitors, Castle Chambers, Opie Street, Norwich, NR1 3DP.

Tel: 01603 625231

www.cozens-hardy.com

t If you have a question or dilemma over the legalities of buying or selling a property which you would like to appear in this supplement, please contact Philippa by e-mailing caroline.culot@archant.co.uk

t These questions and answers are not intended as a complete statement of the law. Specific legal advice should always be taken.