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Can I cut down my neighbour's overhanging tree?

Cape Talk listener Rob wants to know what the law says about his rights regarding his neighbour's overhanging trees.

He says branches from his next-door neighbour's tree have begun encroaching on his property and wonders if he can compel them to remove the offending branches.

"Can I request my neighbour to trim the branches from their trees that hang over my property. The reason I want to do this is that the branches are causing a lot of shading as well as large amounts of leaf litter that clogs the gutters. Alternatively, can I ask them to pay (even half) the costs if I make all the arrangements? The trees are the neighbour's property, so common sense would dictate that the neighbour is responsible for any problems caused by the trees."

John Maytham invited Roy Bregman from Bregman Moodley Attorneys to clarify the options available to Rob.

If you've planted trees near the border of your neighbours property you must make sure the border's not violated by overhanging branches, fallen leaves or roots.

Roy Bregman, Attorney - Bregman Moodley Attorneys

If the tree or roots encroach you can ask the neighbour to remove the branches or the roots and if the request is denied or ignored, then the neighbour can remove them himself and claim the cost of the removal from the neighbour.

Roy Bregman, Attorney - Bregman Moodley Attorneys

And what if the offending tree bears fruit which falls into your garden? Can you help yourself without fear of being slapped with a theft charge?

It seems as if you can't pluck the avos from the neighbour's tree, but if they fall on the ground, they're yours.

Roy Bregman, Attorney - Bregman Moodley Attorneys

Listen to the full interview below:


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