There are thousands of laws in the UK, some big, some minor and some that are outdated. In fact, over 50,000 EU laws have been introduced to the UK since 1990 and have now been likely changed or scrapped since the vote for Brexit on the 23rd of June 2016.
With all these laws, there may be somewhere you’re not sure where you stand, or that you’d never heard of at all. Here are some ways you might be breaking the law without even realising.
In The Garden
The good weather and extra daylight hours in summer allows us to spend more time in the garden. But even things we could be innocently doing and think nothing of could be an infringement on the law.
There are a few ways you could be breaking the law without realising in your own garden…
Stealing Flowers or Fruit from a Neighbour’s Tree
Technically, taking fruit from your neighbour’s tree, even fruit that has fallen from their tree into your garden can count as theft. Actually removing it from the tree counts as stealing. Your neighbour has the legal right to ask for it back.
To avoid any issues, hand back the fruit as soon as you find it, but don’t just throw it back into the garden as this could count as littering. The same goes with flowers that fall into your garden, or are taken from neighbour’s bushes near your fence.
Unless you’ve asked if you can, it’s best to not take anything unless you’ve paid for it or planted it yourself.
It sounds silly but it could happen. If you have a good relationship with your neighbour you should be fine, but otherwise don’t assume or take any chances.
Cleaning Up Leaves and Cutting Branches
Whilst taking fruit that fell into your garden can count as theft, leaves that fall off a neighbour’s tree and into your garden are your responsibility to clean up. You can’t ask your neighbours to clean it as they aren’t under any legal obligation to do so. It’s helpful to know other people’s legal rights as well as your own.
When it comes to trimming annoying branches, you are only legally allowed to trim a neighbour’s tree up to the property line point where your garden ends and your neighbour’s land starts. Any more than this will break the law.
To avoid any possible conflicts, it’s always best to check with your neighbour first to see if they’ll either cut it from their side or let them know you plan on cutting the bit hanging over your side.
Seeking Legal Advice
These are minor legal issues but bigger neighbourly disputes can get difficult to resolve. If you’re unsure of your rights in a situation, search for solicitors Ipswich to find legal advice for your local area.
Following on from only being able to trim a tree if it crosses your property line, you should also be aware of party wall laws. Whilst it doesn’t apply to wooden fences, it’s still useful to know so that you don’t overstep your rights.
A party wall refers to a structure such as a brick wall that is shared by two or more properties, you can carry out work on your side but aren’t able to do any on the neighbour’s sides. To prevent any disputes, it’s best to make sure you all are aware and agree on any work that needs to be done on a shared wall.
Blocking a Neighbour’s Sunlight
This could be done accidentally when planting a tree, eventually when the tree grows big enough it could block a neighbour’s light. This is actually a law, referred to as “Right to Light”. This law states that if a window has had access to a certain level of light for 20 years, it takes priority and nothing is allowed to block it or reduce that level of illumination.
When building any new structure, extension or planting a tree, make sure to check if it could possibly block any neighbour’s light.
Check Your Rights
If you have doubts when doing something, always make sure to check the law. Whether that’s a simple online search or talking to a legal professional at a local solicitor’s office.