House Doctor: 'My neighbour's hedge is way too high. What can I do about it?'

Question: My neighbour and I are on the verge of taking a dispute over his hedge to court. It's way too high (3m at least), blocking sunlight from my back garden and restricting my view. The district council hasn't been able to explain who's in the right – it's twice sent me leaflets about "resolving disputes peaceably" – but my neighbour just doesn't want to know. Our solicitor has been very unhelpful and I'm at my wits' end – can you help?

WH, West Sussex

Answer: Rows over "high hedges" – the so-called "Leylandii wars" – and difficult neighbours can be addressed via Section 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003).

It hands local authorities – not courts – the power to manage complaints such as yours concerning hostilities, but you must follow a strict code of conduct to stay within the rules. A high hedge is determined as being a line of two or more evergreen (or semi-evergreen) trees or shrubs. Critically, they must be at least 2m high and block light or access to a residential property.

Your complaint should emphasise only the height of the hedge – any problems relating to its roots are excluded from the Act. Given your neighbour's hedge height, you are fully entitled to ask your local authority to intervene. However, it's vital that you have first tried to solve the problem by all other means. The Government's public-services advice website,, is clear on this.

Since your neighbour has ignored this, your best bet instead is to "invite [your neighbour] to talk to independent mediators". This involves inviting a third party to your homes to offer solutions and can cost up to £100 an hour – try

If your neighbour refuses to budge despite talks, approach the council directly. It will then decide on whether, according to the Act, the hedge adversely affects your "reasonable enjoyment" of your property.

If it agrees with you, the council will issue a formal notice to the hedge owner detailing what needs to be done to resolve the situation. This usually includes a demand to reduce the hedge's height, within a given time period, and ensure it keeps to a new limit. If your neighbour ignores this, he or she could be fined up to £1,000. Lodging a formal complaint, though, carries a fee of anywhere upwards of £200.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before