Encroaching Trees

My neighbours trees are encroaching on my property, is there anything I can do?

What are your rights?

As a landowner you are entitled to the use and enjoyment of your property. This includes the right to use, consume, alter, destroy or sell your property. The boundary between your property and that of your neighbours marks where your rights begin and end. The owner of a property may only plant or build on his/her own land. If the owner plants trees near the border of his neighbour’s property, he must ensure that his neighbour’s property is not affected by overhanging branches or intruding roots.

What remedies are available?

If the branches of a neighbour’s tree or the roots of the tree encroach onto your property and causes a nuisance, you may:

  • Request the owner of the property to remove the branches;
  • Remove the branches yourself if your neighbour fails to comply with your request and thereafter claim the costs of removing them from the landowner;
  • Approach the court for an interdict compelling the owner to remove the branches.

Restriction to your rights

  • It is important to remember that your neighbour also has the right to the use and enjoyment of his property which includes the right to plant trees even if they block your view or your sunlight. However, if you can prove that your neighbour deliberately planted a tree which encroaches on your land in order to cause a nuisance to you, you may claim for damages or obtain an interdict for the removal of the tree.

You cannot claim damages for fallen leaves from a neighbour’s tree which clog your gutters. This is because it has been held in court that damages caused by fallen leaves can easily be prevented by the routine cleaning of gutters.

Find out more by getting in touch with our team of professionals at Austen Smith who can advise you further on the legal implications and remedial actions available on: mail@austensmith.co.za