Hedgerows can form attractive boundaries but can cause neighbour disputes if one party feels they are inappropriate or badly maintained. Since 2005 residents have been able to make formal complaints about their neighbour’s hedge, under Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003.
For the purposes of the legislation a high hedge is considered to be 2 or more evergreen trees or shrubs in a row which are over 2m tall. Complaints can be considered when hedgerows detract from the reasonable enjoyment of your home or garden through loss of light because the hedge is too tall.
Complainants must be able to show that they have taken all reasonable steps to resolve the problem by negotiation before they approach The Council. If you haven’t tried to resolve the issue with your neighbour The Council may not accept your complaint. If you are considering making a complaint it would be worth keeping a record of any letters or conversations with your neighbour.
If the complaint is upheld, The Council will be able to serve a notice on the owner of the hedge outlining the action to be taken and by when; this can include an initial reduction in height and a range of heights within which the hedge should be maintained. This notice cannot require the reduction of the hedge to less than 2 metres, or its complete removal.
There is a right of appeal against a notice but if it is not complied with, there could be a fine of up to £1000 and further action may be taken to ensure the work is done and recover costs. The notice will also be registered as a local land charge against the hedge owner’s property.
There is a fee of £350 for dealing with a complaint (£100 for people on benefits).
Common misconceptions regarding high hedges
- The legislation does not set a maximum hedge height and there is not a set height at which a hedge becomes unreasonable
- The legislation does not cover single trees
- Nor does it cover deciduous hedges or trees (which lose their leaves in winter, this includes Beech hedges)
- The Council cannot require a hedge to be removed
The related documents section at the right side of this web page has further guidance you may find useful.