Robert Williams Estate Agents, Exeter

We’re often asked about Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and what it means for properties affected by them. Basically, local authorities have the power to safeguard individual trees, groups of trees and even whole woodlands if they are of a certain age or species, protecting them from deliberate damage and destruction, which includes felling, lopping, topping, uprooting or otherwise wilful damage, however well intended.

There are thousands of TPOs in place in the UK and for homeowners with one on or near their land they come with responsibilities and restrictions.

Any management work, trimming, maintenance or removal of a tree with a TPO or in a conservation area, needs permission from the local planning authority and must be undertaken by an agreed contractor. If any work takes place without approval, the Council can prosecute, which could result in a fine of between £2,500 and £20,000.

So, you’ve found your dream home but there’s a protected tree on the plot. Find out the species of the tree and how often maintenance is likely to be required. Think about how the tree will change with the seasons and if this will cause any issues. Check with your mortgage lender if the TPO will have any impact on your mortgage. Local Authority Searches will flag up a TPO during the conveyancing process so any decisions can be made early on in the process.

if you’re considering selling a property with a TPO, consider writing a fact sheet to share with prospective buyers how you have enjoyed the tree, and perhaps include some photos showing how the tree looks in changing seasons. You could also pre-empt any objections by getting a tree survey done so potential buyers can set their minds at rest before making an offer.

If you have any further questions about TPOs or any other property-related matter, we have a team of highly experienced property professionals, including Chartered Surveyors, who can help. Visit our website for more information or call us on 01392 204800.

Q&A with Oliver - Property chains

A property chain occurs during the buying and selling process and can cause the biggest frustration! At the bottom of the chain is a buyer with nothing to sell – either a first-time buyer, an investor or someone else who just isn’t selling. At the top of the chain is someone who is only looking to sell – it could be an investment property, a probate sale, an empty property or someone buying a new build, for example.

In between are all the other links – people who are both buying and selling, forming a sequence of property transactions that must all come together for completion at the same time.

A chain can only move as fast as its slowest link and can collapse at any point before exchange of contracts due to something completely out of anyone’s control – for example, someone in the chain may have lost their job, had a separation or bereavement, or been refused a mortgage due to survey issues.

Basically, the shorter the chain the better as the smaller the chance of unforeseen delays or breakages. Buyers of a property with no onward chain have no risk of a knock-on effect from anyone else’s sale or purchase. And sellers with more than one interested buyer to choose from would ideally opt to sell to a first-time buyer, investor or someone not looking to sell, for a smaller chain.

In some instances, it is beneficial for sellers in the middle of a long chain to break it by going ahead with their sale and temporarily moving in with family or renting short-term, making them more attractive as buyers by having no downward chain.

If you’d like any more advice, we have a lovely team of highly experienced property specialists who can help. Call us on 01392 204800.

We've added a new feature to our website...
Now, you can book a telephone call with us at a pre-arranged time slot, so if you're thinking of selling or letting, arrange an appointment for a focused consultation to talk valuations, marketing strategy and getting your home on the market for sale or to let.
Simply click the link on our home page and choose a time that suits you, whether that's in your lunch break, before nursery or after your 18 holes!


We’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be taking our client’s homes directly to potential buyers in London and the Southeast later on this month, at the Experts in Property’s next Westcountry Property Exhibition.

As a member of the Experts in Property network of independent estate agents, we’re joining together with around 60 other offices spread across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Bristol, to showcase our ‘wares’ at the event, which is set to take place at The Mitre Hampton Court on Thursday 26th October.

Collectively, on a daily basis, we provide exceptional, unrivalled, shared marketing power for our properties to reach more buyers, both in-office and online – every property we have for sale features in the search results on all 60+ websites as well as the main property portals and the dedicated hub for Westcountry property, The finest homes (not just categorised by price) also feature on

As an effective super-agency, we’re collaborating to host the forthcoming exhibition, which in the past has attracted potential buyers from all over the Southeast, the south coast and the Home Counties.

Some of us are making the trip to the boutique hotel to meet potential buyers, chat with them about our region and match properties from across the network to their needs and requirements.

Around 50% of those migrating to our region from other places come from London and the Southeast, so if you’re thinking of selling, or even switching agents, now is a great time to get your property taken directly to this market. You could be moved by Christmas!

To find out more or to arrange a valuation of your property without obligation, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Oliver answers a question from a buyer...

A: The agent you are dealing with is absolutely right in asking to see proof of your financial position. The relevant section of The Property Ombudsman’s Code of Conduct states that the agent must take all reasonable steps to establish the source and availability of a prospective buyer’s funds - and pass this information to the seller - so if he didn’t, he would actually be in breach of the Code and if the sale subsequently fell through over money matters, his client would have legitimate grounds for complaint.

You are under no obligation to disclose this information if you don’t want to. However, the agent would then have no choice but to tell his client that your financial position couldn’t be confirmed. Ultimately, it is the seller’s decision whether or not to accept any offers, but the agent would be doing less than his duty if he didn’t recommend an appropriate course of action. If the seller wanted to accept your offer, the agent might well suggest for example, that he continues to actively market the property until appropriate reassurance was established. 

Of course, your reluctance to reveal such details at such an early stage of negotiations is perfectly understandable. However, the sale is unlikely to go anywhere until you do – except on the kind of conditional basis above.

Get involved - ask Oliver a question! Message us, email us or give us a call.


Vouch Tenancy Deposit Scheme The Property Ombudsman RICS Rightmove Zoopla OnTheMarket Prime Location