I was wondering what to do about a neighbour’s trees encroaching on our fence. They are getting huge — about 30 feet high — and the trunks are starting to bend the fence, and roots are lifting up under the fence. These types of trees grow very large and tall fast, to around 50 feet tall and with trunk diameters of around 12 feet with roots that are like benches.
The problem has grown serious. The neighbours are very unreasonable to deal with otherwise it would have already been solved and I wouldn’t need to be asking what can I do legally to solve this. There are a few of these trees on the boundary as the previous owner meant them to be a hedge but they have grown out of control. I did try to call the planning department but got no one to talk to, so I’m asking you to please help me.
Auntie’s answer: I dealt with a related question previously that dealt with one person’s tree encroaching on an adjacent property (see Overhanging tree a nuisance for neighbour). In that case, though the details were different, I believe the remedy may be the same.
For both situations, British Common Law takes precedence as I do not believe that Cayman has any relevant legislation. What that means for you and the enormous trees overshadowing your property is that you are allowed to cut (or chop I guess in your case) back the offending branches and roots, but you must be careful not to damage your neighbour’s property or make the tree unsafe.
However, having said that, it sounds like the size and extent of the offending trees pretty much make it impossible for you to satisfy the requirements set out under common law.
It is also not clear by your question whether you have actually approached your neighbour about this issue, even though you say they are unreasonable. You did not explain what, if any, attempts you have made to solve the problem, though you have tried to contact the planning department. Based on information I received previously from that department, I don’t think they can help you because the only possibly relevant section in the Planning Law empowers the Central Planning Authority to require proper maintenance of land where buildings have fallen into disrepair or the land has been spoiled due to deposit of refuse.
So, if you can honestly say you have tried your best to talk to your neighbour, I think you may want to consider consulting with a lawyer who might be able to advise you on the legal steps you can take, especially since the trees are damaging your fence. It seems that the damage being caused would weigh in your favour but I am speaking based on common sense and not the law.
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