The Scottish Government has announced that the High Hedges Act will come into effect on 1 April 2014.
Under same home owners and occupiers, after having tried all reasonable means to resolve the issue themselves, will be able to apply to a local authority to take action against hedges over 2 metres in height on a neighbour’s property which are blocking out light.
For the purposes of the Act a “hedge” is “a row of two or more trees or shrubs, rising to a height of more than two metres above ground level, and which forms a barrier to light.”
Guidance has been issued to local authorities on their responsibilities under the Act, which will see them act as independent adjudicators taking into account the positions of both parties in the dispute over a hedge.
However, if the local authority deems it appropriate, it can issue a high hedge notice requiring an owner to take action. If an owner fails to comply with the notice, the local authority would be entitled to enter the land and carry out the work itself and then charge the owner for the costs incurred.
Such notices will be capable of registration at Registers of Scotland and will consequently show up in title searches against an affected house. Thus on the sale of an affected house, evidence will require to be sought that the sums due in terms of same have been paid and if not, steps taken to have same paid as part of the sale process as the Act mirrors the provisions for notices of potential liability for costs in tenements in that a new owner of the house affected by the notice will be severally liable with any former owner for an unpaid bill under a notice.