Overhanging branches or invasive tree roots are a common cause of disputes in strata communities and neighbours. Each state and territory has its own legislation about tree disputes.
If overhanging tree branches cross the boundary line between properties or tree roots grow across the boundary line, under some circumstances you may be permitted to prune the branches back to the boundary line or sever the roots at the boundary. However, care should be taken and checks made with your local council for tree preservation orders before ripping in.
Good relationships with neighbours are valuable beyond price, and bad relationships can ruin everyone’s lives. It is best to firstly try to resolve it by direct discussion or mediation with the neighbour, but sometimes that does not work.
The Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act was passed to help resolve tree disputes in a cost effective way.
A tree for the purposes of the Act includes bamboo, vines and hedges. An Owners Corporation of a property adjoining the property where the problem tree is can apply to the Land & Environment Court for an order to remedy, restrain or prevent damage being caused by a tree. The forms to make an application are on the court’s website. There is no need for legal representation. The court requires evidence of a number of things including:
- Efforts made to try to resolve the dispute directly with the neighbour; and
- That the tree is causing or will cause damage.
This is an effective and reasonably cheap mechanism but very much a last resort.
The information provided is a general guide only and not intended as a substitute for proper legal advice. Seek professional legal advice before taking any action.