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Neighbour Dispute? How to deal with your neighbour’s overgrown garden

Sheree-Ann Virgin
31st July 2017


I’ve found myself in an unfortunate position. One of my neighbours has let their garden completely overgrow. It is so overgrown with brambles that you wouldn’t know there was once a garden underneath. Rubbish and debris, mattresses, old ladders, chairs and a shed have disappeared beneath the undergrowth. Not only does it look unsightly but I’ve seen a rat or two running in and out of the “garden” and the strong, powerful weeds that seem immune to the weedkiller I’m using are growing underneath the fence into my little patch of garden at a rate of knots.

Faced with this issue, and since the neighbour is not resident at the property, I decided to do a little research into my options and I’m surprised to discover that there is not really a neat solution.

I set out below a summary of my findings:

  • I cannot trespass onto the garden of my neighbour to remove any rubbish or foliage;
  • I can prune or remove anything that comes across the fence to my side of the boundary;
  • The local authority only has the power to intervene if material in the “garden” is putrescible (i.e. stuff that rots such as food stuffs, faeces, nappies, dead animals, etc) and is causing a nuisance to neighbours or attracting vermin such as rats or mice or if there is harbourage for vermin. (Apparently, the odd mattress is unlikely to cause a nuisance or attract vermin on a permanent basis);
  • I am entitled to sink a barrier deep along the boundary to try to avoid the problem of encroaching weeds.

It looks like, for now, I’ll have to accept the unsightly brambles, hope that the owner tidies up or sells up and I’ll continue to plow my hard earned cash into buying weed killer in bulk. Alternatively, I may write a polite letter (on headed paper!).

The law surrounding neighbour disputes can be very complex and we advise you to seek legal advice before taking the matter into your own hands. Be aware that if you act without legal advice then you could end up on the wrong side of a court case.

Maitland Walker based in Taunton and Minehead offers a complete range of legal advice covering litigation, conveyancing, corporate and family law advice including divorce, financial matters and children issues.

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