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Disputes over Trees


Neighbourhood problems can often involve issues surrounding trees, be it overhanging branches, damaging tree roots, falling trees, trees which clog up pipes and trees that grow underneath fences into other neighbours yard. The action that can be taken on any of the above issues will vary greatly on the circumstance, which is why it is important to contact us so that one of our experienced Lawyers can help you find the best possible solution.


If you have a problem with your neighbour it is important to go and discuss the issue with your neighbour first. You may find that your neighbour wasn’t aware of the issue and may be willing to help with your concern. If however you find your neighbour does not wish to cooperate, you can turn to The Trees (Disputes between neighbours) Act 2006, that allows an owner or an occupier to apply to the Land and Environment Court for an order to remedy, restrain or prevent damage to property or injury to a person as a consequence of a tree on adjoining land.


If your tree is overhanging its branches in your neighbour’s yard, or vice versa, and your yard is getting messy because of it you may be able to cut back the branches and roots of your neighbour’s trees. However, you must have consent to do so from your local council under its Tree Preservation Order. The order will normally cover certain size trees but the size and type of trees will vary between different councils, which is why it is important to check with your local council before doing anything.


There are also situations in which compensation may be necessary. Generally speaking this is if the tree causes damage to your property, though more specifically for example, if the tree lifts your driveway through its roots or if a dead branch falls on your roof and damages your tiles you may be able to sue for compensation. The remedy would be made by a court and can include compensation, restraints or prevention of future damage.


If the tree is blocking drains and pipes we can help you get in touch with the New South Wales State Forest, which can analyse a sample of the root to try and work out what type of tree it is, as well as being able to match it with the neighbour’s tree. We can then communicate with your neighbour on your behalf in order to get the neighbour to pay the damage that was done to your drain or pipe. If your neighbour refuses to do so we can try and convince them to try mediation, otherwise we can start legal proceedings to recover the cost in damages.


If your neighbour’s tree has falling branches which fall in your yard and damage your property, the law of negligence may be able to provide you with some compensation. It is therefore important to seek legal advice. We can also initiate legal proceedings on your behalf to the Land and Environment Court which deals with many issues including ‘nuisance’ as a result of damage caused by trees


If you need more information or assistance with dealing with a dispute over neighbouring trees. Complete and submit the Express Enquiry form on the top right hand side of this page and we will contact you to discuss your enquiry or call us on 1300 QUINNS (1300 784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to arrange an appointment.