Can my neighbor remove a boundary hedge?

There are several ways to signify the boundary of one property from one another. One of the common ways is planting hedges there. However, hedges can be tricky since they’re not static like a fence and other boundary markers. So, can my neighbor remove a boundary hedge?

Your neighbor can’t remove a boundary hedge without shared ownership which depends on planting and maintenance of the hedge. If they don’t have ownership and remove the hedge, you can settle the disputes by talking to them to restore it, hiring an attorney, mediation, or suing them for damages.

However, they may be able to trim any overhanging branches from the hedge on their property even without your permission. Here, we discuss whether your neighbor can remove the boundary hedge.

Who Can Remove Boundary Hedges?

Hedges are a common form of dispute between neighbors. If one of the neighbors doesn’t take good care of the hedges, it can overgrow and be a nuisance on the other person’s property. However, the owner is responsible for maintaining and ensuring hedges don’t overgrow the boundary. This means your neighbor can remove a boundary hedge if they’re the one that planted the hedge.

Unlike fences, hedges are moving boundaries in that they’re not stationary. They’re plants and can grow and expand, getting into the other person’s land. This makes them a tricky idea to create boundaries between properties as they can become contentious in a matter of years.

The hedges’ ownership matters most when deciding how to handle them. Only the hedge owner can trim, remove, or move it. So, if you planted boundary hedges and your neighbor removes them, they’ll be liable and have to pay for damages and legal costs.

How to Determine Ownership of the Hedge?

Determining who owns the boundary hedge can be tricky, especially if you and your neighbors meet it there. The best way would be to check the property deeds from the land registry to determine. If the land deed doesn’t provide any valuable information which can happen, the next best thing is to take it as shared property. In that case, each neighbor has the right to remove or trim the hedges on their side of the property. But they won’t be able to do the same for your side of the property.

However, if one of the neighbors can prove that they have been the only one responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the boundary hedges for some years without getting the permission of the legal owner and the legal owner, i.e., the other neighbor hasn’t made any effort to stop them. They may be able to claim ownership of the hedge under the principle of adverse possession.

Although the neighbor can’t remove the boundary hedge, they can trim it. As long as the hedges they’re trimming are on their property, they’ll be within their rights to cut it. But if it’s directly on the boundary line and no part of the hedge is on their property. Then, they’ll need your permission before doing anything with it. Everyone will usually have the right to the hedge based on the proportion of the hedge on their property.

Most times, the best way to resolve any issue that has to do with boundary hedges is by talking about it. Even if the whole boundary hedge is on your property and you want to remove it, it’s still good for you to give your name advance notice before you remove it. The hedges may also serve the neighbors, especially in terms of privacy. Removing it without notice could cause bad blood between you and your neighbors.

Settling Disputes Regarding Hedges Removal

Hedge removal is quite common, and disputes usually arise from this. Settling such disputes will depend on the peculiarity of each case. Sometimes, the neighbor might not be at fault for removing what you thought was your boundary hedge. You can settle such disputes through the following means:

1.  Talk to Your Neighbor

If you notice that your neighbor has removed your boundary hedge, you should first reach out to tell them they might have been in the wrong. Most times, if you can clearly explain how they might be at fault, they’ll see your point and try to restore the hedges. That’ll help both of you to maintain your neighborly relations, and you’ll still get your boundary hedges back.

2.  Hire an Attorney

But if talking doesn’t work, you might want to involve an attorney. An attorney’s involvement doesn’t necessarily mean heading straight to court. Hire an experienced attorney familiar with cases like this to determine what happened and whether your neighbor is liable.

3.  Mediation

Mediation is the best next step if you can’t make your neighbor understand that they’re in the wrong. Your attorney will handle the mediation. With mediation, your neighbor would likely have to hire an attorney. So, they’ll have professional advice, and each party will know this is a serious situation. Resolving disputes regarding land through mediation allows everyone to express their view of the matter at hand and reach a reasonable solution. There will be an independent mediator who will guide both parties to a common ground.

4.  Sue the Neighbor

However, mediation isn’t always a success. In such cases, you may have to go to court. This is your last resort, and it’s important to use it only as a last resort, especially concerning boundary hedges. So, you should try other avenues to resolve the conflict before going to court. This way, the judge fully understands that you had no other choice.

Going to court will cost you more money, and there’s also the risk of losing. This is why rushing to court isn’t advisable. But if you can establish your case and the attorney gives you the right advice, your chances of winning are higher.

In Conclusion 

Hedges are great for boundaries. But they also leave room for a lot of conflicts. So it’s important to have some agreement with your neighbors and discuss maintenance of the hedges with them. This could save both parties from legal issues when someone trims the hedge.