You and the Law – 27th October 2009

Hedge row

We have a hawthorn hedge, and on the other side the farmer has planted a hedge of willow saplings, 9in apart.  They are now higher than a house and in full leaf they form a complete green wall, blocking out a lot of light. 

We have asked the farmer if he could trim the hedge, but to no avail.  Is there any law which limits the height of a farmer’s hedge.  LA

 The legislation governing the height of hedges relates only to evergreens, so you will not be able to make a complaint about a line of willows. There has been talk of extending the legislation to include deciduous trees, so to this end you may wish to take photos and discuss your problem with your MP.

However any change could be a long time coming.  In the meantime you are entitled to cut away any branches that overhang your property if you return the wood to the owner. 

If you had a problem with a conifer hedge over two metres in height you could ask the council to intervene if the neighbour refused to take action.

Rent demand

My neighbour and I are each sent a demand for £10 ground rent every year by a firm in Cheshire.  They say our houses are leasehold when in fact they are, and always have been, freehold.  Can this be right?  AG

You should check your title deeds again just to confirm that your property is freehold.  Land Registry Online suggests it has no information about your house, which probably means that it is unregistered and that the only information available is contained in your deeds. 

Then write to the ground rent firm, tell them of your findings and ask them to produce evidence of their ownership.  There’s an avenue of the same name as yours in Sale, Cheshire, and another one in St Helens.  Perhaps they have mistaken your street for one of those, it has been known.

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