Council can investigate certain complaints of hedges that are too high
The High Hedges Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 came into effect on 31 March 2012. It gives local authorities in Northern Ireland the powers to deal with complaints about high hedges that block light to a neighbour’s property. The Act gives Council power to serve a legal notice on a person requiring them to cut their hedge down to a reasonable height.
Information for those who are affected by a high hedge
We would encourage all neighbours to talk to one another and try and resolve any problem hedges informally and amicably. If no solution can be found then the next step is to write to your neighbour explaining the problem and asking for a resolution. You will need to provide us with a copy of this letter before we can pursue any complaint.
You can use our sample letters to help explain to your neighbour how their hedge is blocking your light.
If your neighbour refuses to talk or correspond with you, you could consider using mediation. You could ask a community representative or mutual acquaintance to intervene. Or you could contact an independent mediator. But there may be a cost associated with this.
Criteria for complaints
The Act does not cover:
- single trees
- non-evergreen hedges or trees
- trees within a forest or woodland (of a size greater than 0.2 hectares)
- roots, dangerous trees, or leaves.
Making a High Hedge Complaint
If talking or writing to your neighbour does not work, you can then submit a complaint. Before completing this form you should read the Guidance for complainants.
You must send evidence with your complaint, such as a photograph and location plan of the hedge and a copy of letter(s) sent to your neighbour.
You will need to pay a fee of £360 to pursue the complaint. If your complaint is upheld, this fee will be refunded to you. Information on fees including the transfer of fees to the hedge owner are set out in legislation and can be viewed here.
Information for high hedge owners
If you have a high hedge, you don’t have to do anything unless your hedge is causing a problem for someone else. But, we would encourage you to maintain the hedges on your property at a reasonable height and listen carefully if your neighbours have any concerns about it.
Read our advice on choosing an arborist
Download our guidance notes for hedge owners