Watch: House swallowed by trees allowed to grow out of control for 40 years
An 'eyesore' house in Birmingham left 'swallowed by nature' after being choked by trees and ivy for 40 years has sold for more than seven times its guide price.
The end-terraced property in King's Norton, Birmingham, is virtually invisible after disappearing under a blanket of thick foliage over the decades. Neighbour say the “nature-loving” homeowner neglected to cut back the plants, causing a “nightmare” for locals. The front garden is so overrun with plants that the chimney is not visible, with only the front door and a satellite dish on show.
However, the significant gardening work needed didn't put off a stream of bargain hunters when it went up for sale at an online auction on 8 February. The three-bed house, auctioned by Bond Wolfe, was in need of some serious pruning, but eventually sold for more than £150,000 than its guide price.
Auctioneers had vowed that it would make a lovely family home with some TLC – coming complete with a valuable driveway and rear garage.
Gurpreet Bassi, chief executive at Bond Wolfe, said: “There are currently some overgrown trees that need to be cut back outside of this end-terraced home. Once that is done, the new owners will be presented with a property which stands back from the road with plenty of space on an L-shaped plot of land. This is likely to be a popular lot for first-time buyers with green fingers or for landlords looking to invest in extending their portfolios.”
The hammer finally came down on the property at £177,000, smashing its initial guide price and delighting its elderly owner.
Residents have spoken of their frustration at living next to the “eyesore” property, which is owned by a woman, in her 90s, who has now gone to live in a care home.
Next door neighbour, mum-of-four Vivienne Attwood, said it was “like living next to West MIdlands Safari Park”. She added: “I'm worried about what its done to the value of our houses too. My husband goes up on the ladders and trims it back whenever it encroaches and luckily we've stopped it getting into our roof.”
Attwood said the elderly neighbour “always had it this way” but it has got worse over the 40 years they had lived next door. She said: “She used to have somebody in to trim it back until about 10-15 years ago when it was left completely untouched. It has then been allowed to completely take over the entire house. You can't even really tell there's a house there now.”
‘Ultimate gardening job’
Attwood said the homeowner refused offers of help to cut the trees back as she was “stubborn” and “said she liked nature”. The trees have attracted rats as well as birds and other wildlife.
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, added: "I can't believe nobody has stepped in to do anything about it because its clearly a health hazard. She clearly needed help with it, it just got out of control. Whoever takes it on has got the ultimate gardening job on their hands and who knows what damage has been done to the roof."
What are your rights if a neighbour’s garden is overgrown?
While it may be annoying for a neighbour to allow their garden to be untidy, there is very little you can do about it. However, once it goes from untidy to overgrown, you have more rights.
The first step will be to simply have a conversation with your neighbour to explain your issues and to ask if they are willing to have foliage cut back. It could be the case they are simply unable to do it themselves or are unable to pay for it to be done, so an agreement in this sense is the best course of action.
But if they are unwilling to cut back the foliage – especially if it grows into your garden and causes problems to your property – you can take the matter further. Weeds or brambles or trees causing a nuisance on your property could amount to a public nuisance, and can therefore be reported to the local council’s Environment Health department. They can then pursue legal action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
What should not be done is taking action yourself as you could be prosecuted for trespass. However, you are entitled to prune or remove anything that encroaches onto your side of the boundary. The law states that you should offer the clippings back to your neighbour before disposing of them.
It should be noted, however, that trees may be subject to preservation orders and therefore you could be fined if you remove anything other than dead wood.