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Tree Ownership

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  • Tree Ownership

    I have recently purchased a property which has a large Gum Tree that I want to cut down as it is a nuisance tree, drops both leaves and gum, the root system is causing concrete damage and drainage issues. The tree is on the eastern edge of the property and I have had compaints from two neighbours on the southern boundary.

    I have contacted the local council and have been given the ok to remove it as it is not native or protected.

    When I informed the neighbour to my east (i.e. nearest to the tree), they have claimed that the tree is on the boundry and therefore they have a say in its fate. For whatever reason, they do NOT want the tree cut down.

    I have a copy of a professional property survey that was carried out in 2009. At the time, the tree is clearly shown on MY property. Since this time, the tree trunk has grown such that it has arguable encroached on to the neighbours property (causing some displacement in the fence line).

    My question is, does a tree whose trunk has grown over the boundry line become joint ownership or is ownership determined by where the tree was originally planted?
    Am I within my rights to remove the tree regardless of my neighbours desire to have it remain?

    Thank you.
    Last edited by Scave; 06-03-2013, 10:58 AM.

  • #2
    I will defer to more knowledgeable folk on the legal side of things, but common-sense dictates its yours to remove and if they are claiming some shared interest, then maybe they can share the costs of its ultimate removal and any legal expenses incurred to get it to the point of, and actual removal as you and your neighbours wish (with council approval already achieved). Bet the moment they realise the fight might cost them dollars they go all quiet. Do I take it that its growth has damaged the fence? If so even more weight to your need to remedy.


    • #3
      Just cut your half of it down :-)

      Or perhaps if they won't budge, cut everything off your side of it and neatly put it all back over their side of the fence. If it is their tree, I understand you are within your rights to cut branches off that come over your side, and put them back on their side to get rid of.

      Before any of this however, continue to talk to them to see why they want to retain it so badly. Neighbours communicating is always a good thing.


      • #4
        I like the idea given by Nice, however I am sure I read somewhere that if in trimming back to the boundary (as is your legal right) any branches or roots such that the tree dies you can be held culpable... will have to try searching to see where that warning comment led.


        • #5
          As you have a dispute, you could take it to the Disputes Tribunal. Decision might not go your way though, so if you can persuade the neighbour to your point of view, that would be preferable,


          • #6
            If you are confident the tree is growing on your land then the amount of lean into a neighbours property does not endow them with any rights of ownership. The tree is yours to do with as you choose.

            The core, the central tenent of land law is land ownership. The fact we blithely talk about owning houses fences trees etc completely avoids the legal reality. All we own is the land - and that which is fixed to it. Sometimes that doesn't even include the dwelling if it is not tied down to piles. And yes. that happens.