Coronavirus local restrictions

Harlow is in a high local COVID alert level area. You can find out what this means on GOV.UK

Tree maintenance

We are responsible for all trees on council-owned land including highways, housing and open spaces. HTS (Property & Environment) Ltd manage these trees on our behalf.

Trees on private land are the tenant or owner’s responsibility. We do not have any records of trees on private land.

If you don’t know who owns the land (and the tree) then you can carry out a land search through HM Land Registry website

Dangerous trees

If you see a tree on council land in Harlow which you think is dangerous, you can report it to us on 01279 446655

Outside of office hours, in an emergency, you can call HTS on 01279 446666

HTS will inspect the tree and take action to make it safe as soon as possible.

Dead or dying trees

A dead or apparently dying tree does not necessarily mean it is dangerous, and standing dead trees do make a great habitat for many birds, bats and insects.

If you are concerned about a dead or dying tree on council land, you can report this to us.

If the tree is next to a road, you need to report the tree to Essex Highways

Roots damaging property

If you are a private homeowner concerned that a neighbour’s tree roots are damaging your property, you need to report this to your building insurer.

If you are a council tenant, you need to report the tree damage to your housing officer and they can arrange an investigation.

If you are a leaseholder, you should contact the buildings insurer to put them on notice of a potential claim within 90 days to comply with claim notification condition.

Overgrowing trees affecting property

Private land

If an overgrowing tree on private land is affecting your property, it is important you report the problem to the homeowner first.

You cannot force the owner to prune back any branches overhanging your property, but if your neighbour isn’t willing to cut them back, you are entitled to do so yourself.

Under common law, you can prune any branches or roots on your land up to the boundary of your property. You need to be careful not to trespass on to your neighbour's land to do this though.

The branches you prune off are technically your neighbour's property and you have to offer them back, although they do not have to accept them. If they do not accept them, you are responsible for getting rid of them.

If the tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or is in a Conservation Area, common law rights do not apply and you need consent from the council before any work takes place.

You can apply for the consent – you do not have to rely on the tree owner to do this. 

Council land

You can report overgrowing trees on council land to us.

HTS will inspect the tree within 4 weeks. If we agree that work is needed, we will get it done within the next 4 months.

HTS will only carry out tree works where the trees pose a public safety risk or a risk to property. Trees that are dangerous will be prioritised.

We do not generally prune trees for seasonal issues such as falling leaves, fruit or blossom or because of issues relating to light.

However, under common law you can prune any branches or roots on your land up to the boundary of your property. You need to be careful not to trespass on to your neighbour's land to do this though.

You are responsible for getting rid of the branches you prune off.

Overgrowing trees affecting footpaths

If an overgrowing tree is causing an obstruction on a public footpath, you can report it to us.

If the tree is on council land HTS will inspect the tree as soon as possible. If HTS agree it is causing an obstruction, they will carry out work to cut back the tree.

If the tree is on private land we can serve a formal notice on the owner to get work done.

If the tree is on land owned by Essex County Council, you can report this online or call them on 01245 430430

TV and satellite signal

We do not prune or remove trees if a tree is blocking your satellite TV signal. Your only option is to move or resite your satellite dish.

Unfortunately, there is no legal right to TV reception and interference is not legally classed as a nuisance.

Blocked light

The only way you can have a legal right to light is if you have had uninterrupted light for at least 20 years which is changed suddenly – like the erection of a new building.

In the majority of cases, trees grow too slowly for this law to apply.

You would have to prove your loss of light in the civil court which can be very expensive. We strongly advise against this action.

If a tree is blocking your light, you should report the problem to the homeowner first – they may be willing to help.

Even if they refuse, under common law, you can prune any branches or roots on your land up to the boundary of your property. You need to be careful not to trespass on to your neighbour's land to do this though.

The branches you prune off are technically your neighbour's property and you have to offer them back, although they do not have to accept them. You are then responsible for getting rid of them.

If the tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or is in a Conservation Area, common law rights do not apply and you consent from the council before any work takes place.

Views or outlook

There is no legal right to a particular view or outlook, we will not prune or remove trees purely to maintain a scenic view.