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How to Deal with Tree-Related Neighbour Disputes in Australia


They say that good fences make for good neighbours, but sometimes your greenery may get in the way, regardless of the fence’s location. For example, trees often encroach on a neighbour’s property, and there is no hard and fast rule over what to do about them. Some people love trees and never want them cut, and this could be the neighbour, so in this scenario, you don’t need to over prune the trees, so they are on your side of the boundary. However, trees can cause a lot of distress if they are blocking light and sun. Trees that have overgrown may also fall over and cause property damage. When lives are threatened the trees in question have to go for all other scenarios here are a few pointers on how to deal with tree-related neighbour disputes.

When the Tree is on Your Property

When the tree is on your property, it is your responsibility to make certain it doesn’t cause injuries or damage. If your tree is damaging your neighbours’ property, you should call in tree experts to see whether the tree needs to be cut back or taken down. Keep in mind that you may have to cut the tree back even if there isn’t explicit property damage. For example, Australian law gives neighbours the right to request action if the tree might cause damage to their property or poses a hazard.

Australian law gives homeowners a number of rights tied to enjoyment and use of their property. This means that your tree is not supposed to block the sun to their garden or home, and it isn’t supposed to drop leaves or debris on their property. It also can’t block TV signals.

Depending on where you live, you may be allowed to prune the part of a tree that crosses over your boundary line. However, that option may be limited by tree preservation orders or local rules that limit how much you could remove from the tree to maintain its health.

If the Tree is on Someone Else’s Property

Suppose the offending tree is on someone else’s property, first attempt to speak with the owner and come to a resolution. The next step is writing a letter stating your request and keeping a copy as evidence. If nothing is done, call in a qualified consultant and get an arboricultural report. You can use this to request the required works be completed. If damage has already occurred, formally request reimbursement for the cost of repairs and any other damages in a written letter. You can use the same letter to request that offending parts of the tree are removed.

In either case, you can seek legal action. You could also report the issue to the city. The city has the authority to respond to safety concerns regarding trees on private properties, though you have to prove that you took steps to resolve it amicably first.

When the City May Be Involved

If there is a tree preservation order, you could be fined for intentionally or even indirectly causing damage to the tree. Protected trees may be pruned or removed if the tree is posing an immediate danger, blocking sewer pipes or threatening a structure, but you’ll still need approval after a council inspector checks on the tree. If the council doesn’t grant the request, you can appeal to the courts. If the tree causing the damage is in a public area, then you have to go through the local council.


Try to work out matters with your neighbours when there is a dispute over a tree. Understand when you need to call in the professionals to do tree lopping, or when you must get government approval to do the work in the first place.

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