What can we do about overgrowth from gardens encroaching on a public walkway?

Property Clinic: We are tired of cleaning up the leaves and vines that passersby pull off

Our street borders on to an estate managed by a property company. A 12ft boundary wall at the rear four houses has an overgrowth of ivy and shrubs which has, in the past, blocked the public pavement. Our street’s residents’ association has over the years written to the houses that affect our street and one owner has trimmed and tidied his part of the wall. The other three have at times laughed and done nothing or trimmed the top and left the debris blocking the public pavement. We have written and spoken to the management company who says that the board of the community will not deal with this as it is not their issue. The pavement is getting blocked again by trailing ivy and shrubs. We are tired of cleaning up the leaves and vines that passersby pull off.

Your neighbour’s behaviour is disappointing. It is unclear if your street is a common area of an owners’ management company (OMC) or if it is a road under the control of an authority such as a county council. If your street is within an OMC, the board of directors or their agent may revert to the owners of the land in a formal focused communication.

If your street is a public road, under the Roads Act 1993, section 70 states that the authority may serve a written notice to the owner to remove the growth within the stated period if it is a hazard. Failure to do so after the prescribed time in the notice is an offence.

Landdirect.ie will charge a fee of €5 to identify the owner of the property. If the boundary properties are freehold, each house is the responsible party. If the boundary properties are leasehold in an OMC, the OMC may be the responsible party subject to the governing lease agreement stating it must maintain the area where the vegetation is situated. Another possibility is that those OMC members may be required under the governing lease agreement to maintain the vegetation. The latter may be the case as the property management company indicated to you a similar position.


The objective is to resolve the encroachment caused by the overgrowth with minimal cost to you and to avoid confrontation and legal costs should matters escalate. The ivy and shrubs are the responsibility of the owner or occupier of the land but of course if this is communicated to them via complaints made to authorities or by legal letter, you risk escalating matters further which may delay the desired outcome and lead to additional expense and frustrations.

If you are the landowner where the vegetation is encroaching, you may undertake the removal of the overgrowth back to the boundary only. The costs to do this should be practical and preferable to the alternative options. Following the works, you must offer the clippings to the owner as they remain the property of the owner.

Note the cutting back of some vegetation may not occur during nesting season, save for certain exemptions.

Paul Huberman is a chartered property and facilities manager and a fellow of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

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