This article describes how local governments in Germany can intervene in conflicts between neighbors over high hedges, as well as how homeowners and occupiers can file complaints.
A typical dispute among neighbors is the height of the hedge on the edge of the property. Because this must not grow arbitrarily high. What is the legal situation?
A high hedge is a popular way to separate your own property from that of your neighbor. Positive side aspect: The green wall offers many animals a natural habitat. But not everyone is happy about such a high hedge. For example, when it shadows half of the neighbor’s garden.
There are clear limits to the height that you should adhere to. However, it is not so easy to keep an overview here, as several laws play a role, which vary depending on the location.
High hedges – which regulations apply?
In fact, the question of the legally permitted high hedges is not that easy to answer. There are legal texts on this at different levels. These legal bases are relevant:
- German Civil Code (BGB): Paragraphs 903 to 924 define neighboring law. Among other things, it is about drawing boundaries, building projects across property boundaries, fences and even hedges.
- Neighboring laws of the federal states: More detailed legal bases can be found in the state-neighboring laws. Here, for example, it says how far away trees have to be from the border to the neighbor. However, there are big differences between the individual federal states.
- State building regulations: In the various building regulations of the federal states, the distance between houses and property boundaries is regulated, as well as the applicable height for hedges and fences.
- Local regulations: Last but not least, there are also regulations for high hedges, which are stipulated in the respective local statutes of the cities and municipalities.
Note: The various regulations make the question of the correct height of the hedge much more difficult. In addition, the neighboring law is private law. This means that compliance is not controlled.
The building regulations also take precedence over neighboring law. The local building authority can also provide information about the height of the hedge.
High hedges – Regulations on boundary distance and the height of the hedge
Even if the height of the hedge is derived from the respective neighboring law or the applicable building regulations, there are general regulations for hedges and fences on property. For example, it is not permissible to plant a hedge directly on the property line. Usually, a border distance of at least 50 centimeters to the border applies, depending on regional conditions.
However, this rule usually applies to high hedges and fences up to two meters. If they are higher, a larger limit distance must generally be observed. If they are lower, it can also be closer to the limit.
The neighboring laws show how high a hedge can be at what distance from the border. In general, the higher the hedge, the further away it has to be from the border.
What can I do if the neighbor’s hedge is too high?
A high hedge that unintentionally shades your own garden often leads to conflicts between neighbors. If the high hedge is too high according to the respective neighboring law, you can ask for it to be cut back. However, you should not wait too long with the request, since depending on the federal state, the right to cut back can expire – usually a period of five years applies.
Tip: In general, in order to maintain a good neighborly relationship, you should speak to the neighbor in advance before taking any legal steps. As a rule, you can come to an agreement among yourself and thus save yourself the legal fees.