Avoid expensive legal battles

House, cluster or townhouse - there will always be issues with neighbours. We offer some sensible advice on how to avoid conflict that could result in an expensive legal battle.


Gardens small or large, these sometimes tend to get a bit out of control. Before you know it, branches are hanging over walls and creepers are sneaking up everywhere. Every homeowner should be responsible and ensure that plants do not become a problem for themselves and their neighbours.

This past week I called in tree fellers to chop down trees that were starting to intrude on my neighbours property. Overhanging branches can cause dissention with your neighbour, especially when trees are deciduous or berry- or fruit-bearing. It is a common courtesy that you keep messy trees and shrubs trimmed, not only on your property, but also on that of your neighbour. Such a common courtesy will ensure that problems do not arise in the future.

Unfortunately, however, we all know that not all neighbours are courteous and considerate and you will find more than a few that don't care what inconvenience they cause for neighbours.

As properties become smaller, problems can soon arise with overhanging branches that block gutters and downpipes, or even cause damage to walls and roofs, tree root systems that encroach on neighbouring properties and can cause damage to walls, or even building foundations.

If your neighbour has trees or large shrubs that cause nuisance you:

1) request that the neighbour trim these back, or with failure to do so, can claim the cost of removal;

2) employ the services of a lawyer for an interdict compellling your neighbour to remove the branches.

However, before you go rushing into litigation, know that this is an expensive route and should be avoided whenever possible. Also know that with increasing awareness of the importance of protecting the environment, citizens need to be more tolerant of the inevitable problems caused by the shrinking size of properties and the greater proximity of neighbours and their trees.

Further reading can be found here: