Force that @#*^!
It's possible to apply for an interdict compelling a neighbour to cut the branches of a tree that encroach onto your property, a law firm said on Tuesday.

The same rights apply to airspace over a property as to that of the ground beneath it, a partner at Shepstone and Wylie Attorneys, Sifiso Msomi, said in a statement.

"With regard to overhanging branches, falling leaves or fruit and roots intruding into the airspace of your property, you may demand that your neighbour cut the branches back and remove them from your property.

"If he refuses to do so you may cut them back yourself, to the extent that they intrude, and then recover the reasonable costs of removal from him."

He however said it was important to note that without the neighbour's permission, you may not retain the cuttings, unless that neighbour refuses to collect them 'within a reasonable time'.

"If he refuses to cut the branches back you may also apply for a mandatory interdict to compel him to do so."

Furthermore, if you allow the overhanging branches to remain, you may not compel your neighbour to remove leaves, flowers and fruit which fall from those branches onto your property.

According to some legal writers you are entitled to pick the fruit and keep it, while others suggest it may only be taken if it has fallen by itself.

Msomi advised that one must approach neighbours in a business-like manner.

"This problem need not lead to bad relations with neighbours if dealt with reasonably and in the correct manner, where both parties recognise that there is a problem and work together to solve it," he said.

Compensation can also be claimed for intruding roots that have caused damage to property.


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