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Tree Preservation Order When Buying a House

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

18th Nov 2021 (Last updated on 27th Apr 2022) 4 minute read

A tree preservation order (TPO) is placed by the local planning authority to protect a single tree or woodlands. You'll need formal consent from the council if you wish to carry out any work, with some exceptions.

If you’re buying a property with large trees within the boundaries, your conveyancing solicitor will examine any local authority orders or planning applications to inform you of any TPOs that affect you.

We work with property experts to bring you the latest advice on everything moving house. In this article, we explain what a tree preservation order means when buying a house.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Does A Tree Preservation Order Mean?
  2. Who Is Responsible For A Tree With A Preservation Order?
  3. Are There Any Exemptions?
  4. How Will I Know If There Are Any TPOs When Buying A House?
  5. Does A TPO Affect House Insurance?
  6. What If The Tree Is On My Neighbour's Property?
  7. What Happens If You Breach A TPO?
  8. How To Beat A Tree Preservation Order
  9. Learn More About Conveyancing

What Does A Tree Preservation Order Mean?

Under Regulation 13 of the Town and Country Planning Regulations 2012, a tree preservation order prevents any person from doing the following to the tree under the order:

  • cutting down
  • uprooting
  • topping
  • lopping
  • wilful damage
  • wilful destruction

All types of trees can be protected by a TPO, from an individual tree to woodlands. Hedges, bushes and shrubs aren’t included.

Who Is Responsible For A Tree With A Preservation Order?

The owner of the land the tree is on will be responsible under the TPO, regardless of who ordered it. This means that you’re responsible for any damage caused by the tree as well as paying for any up-keep for its condition.

To carry out any work to the tree, you will need permission from the local planning authority which can be granted by submitting an application form from the Planning Portal. You’ll have to give 5 working days written notice before carrying out works to a protected tree, unless the work in question is causing immediate harm or damage.

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Are There Any Exemptions?

There are certain exemptions to a tree preservation order where you don’t require planning permission such as:

  • If the tree is dead
  • If the tree is dying or diseased
  • To remove an immediate risk of danger
  • To prevent or abatement of nuisance
  • To remove dead branches for a living tree
  • Where work is urgently necessary for national security purposes

How Will I Know If There Are Any TPOs When Buying A House?

If you’re planning to buy a property and are worried about any trees with TPOs that could affect your property, you will need to talk to a conveyancing solicitor. Your Local Authority Search will reveal any tree preservation orders affecting the property. This will be noted in the searches as a registered Local Land Charge against the property.

Your conveyancer should request a copy of the order and the plan so you’re aware of the location of the tree/s and how this affects you once you own the property. They should raise the necessary further enquiries such as whether or not the seller has experienced any issues with the local planning authority. For example, any challenged or denied requests to cut down the tree.

Does A TPO Affect House Insurance?

Having a tree under a tree protection order shouldn’t directly affect your home insurance. Whether the property is near any large trees is a commonly asked question from insurers, but if the trees in your garden pose a threat to the property or the environment, then they might be deemed a risk and affect your home insurance costs.

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What If The Tree Is On My Neighbour's Property?

Even though the property you’re buying doesn’t have trees within its boundaries, protected trees could be situated on adjoining land.

When your solicitor is examining the plan of the TPOS, you will learn if your neighbour’s trees are protected too. If their tree is affecting your garden or property with overhanging branches, you will still have to apply for permission to even prune their tree, and the owner will have to agree to it too.

What Happens If You Breach A TPO?

If a TPO is breached, the council have the power to take legal action against you, that if found guilty, can face a fine of up to £20,000.

The landowner has a duty to replace the tree if:

  • You carried out work to the tree without giving the authorities 5 days notice
  • You destroy or cut down the tree
  • The council have given permission for work but you have to replace the tree as part of the conditions

How To Beat A Tree Preservation Order

Typically, councils will only remove a tree preservation order if there was a mistake with the original TPO, which usually results in a new order being made. An order may also be removed by the council If the tree is dead, dying or diseased.

Learn More About Conveyancing

This article has been part of our conveyancing guide. In the next article, we take a look at buying property near a previous mining area. To learn more, read buying a house in a mining area.

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

Gareth Brooks

Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

Solicitor and Partner, RMNJ Solicitors

With 19 years of experience in the residential conveyancing industry, Gareth Brooks is a partner and head of management for the conveyancing department at RMNJ Solicitors.

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