Good fences make good neighbours. But what happens in the case of annoyance caused by branches hanging over the fence? Our courts have held that a neighbour may remove the branches himself should the owner of the tree fail to heed repeated requests to do so, as the overhanging branches constitute an encroachment of the airspace of the affected neighbour’s land. The affected neighbour may however only retain the cut-off branches if the owner of the tree does not want them.

On the other hand, the owner on whose land overhanging fruit falls, becomes the owner of the fruit through collection thereof and has no obligation to return the fruit to the owner of the tree.

It would therefore be wise to weigh up the nuisance of an overhanging tree against the fruitful benefits of fallen fruits!