Everybody loves a beautiful tree, but there are limits. For instance, nobody wants one to fall on their car. And you don’t particularly want neighbours trees overhanging your property either.
In addition to yappy dogs, noisy parties and borderline arguments, the run-of-the-mill neighbour tree dispute is actually an extremely common phenomenon.
Overhanging trees – What’s the big deal?
You and your neighbour might be discussing:
- Neighbours trees overhanging my property
- Overhanging branches – who pays?
- Branches and fruit dropping into my backyard
- Tree roots damaging my property
- Trees or branches affecting my solar panels
- Trees that endanger my safety
- Trees that affect my enjoyment of my land
But before cutting overhanging trees from neighbours yard seems like the perfect solution, it’s important to understand that you do have rights.
The law protects you if your neighbour’s tree is affecting your life in the ways outlined above.
Tree disputes Qld – A guide about what to do
1. Where to start
Talk it over
Unless you’re already locked in a serious argument, the best place to start is with a friendly chat about a solution.
If you can solve the issue of a neighbours tree damaging my property and stay friends as well, that’s best for everybody. It’s also more pleasant, faster, cheaper and a whole lot less stressful than going the legal route.
Know your rights
Before you take that chat any further, it’s important to understand your rights. In Queensland, it’s all covered in the Neighbourhood Disputes Act 2011.
Know the tree-keeper
Next, it’s important to understand who the ‘tree-keeper’ is.
No, it’s not Ghostbusters 5, it’s a term that relates specifically to the legislation detailed above. Remember, your dispute is with the owner of the land and tree, not someone who is renting the property. It could also be a body corporate or a company.
So look up the ‘tree-keeper’ by checking out the freehold land register, which you can read about in the Land Title Act 1994.
2. Overhanging trees responsibility – What should I do next?
Here’s a useful Q&A:
Q: The neighbours trees overhanging my property. Can you do your own pruning? Are you allowed to?
A: The short answer is YES in most cases. Neighbours trees overhanging your property is annoying, and so common law rights mean you can do what you like with branches, leaves and roots that are actually on your side of the boundary. The only thing to be careful about are tree or vegetation protection orders, which need to be complied with even if it’s not your tree.
Q: What if you don’t want to just cut it back?
A: If you’d like to see your neighbours tree removed completely, dropping leaves in your property is not going to cut it. Your neighbours tree must interfere with the use and enjoyment of your property. An example is where a tree obstructs a view that existed before you owned the property, or has the potential to cause serious injuries or damage.
Q: What if I’m still getting nowhere?
A: Not coming to an agreement? The best thing to do in this case is to write your neighbour a letter. Grab a Form 3 (Notice for removal of particular overhanging branches) for any branches that are overhanging by more than 50cm. If your neighbour doesn’t act within the specified time (min 30 days), then you can remove them yourself or hire a contractor.
If you’re still running into an overhanging dead end, you can escalate your tree dispute to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT). They can make a ruling that is legally enforceable – but please see this option as a last resort as neighbour disputes are never much fun.
If you get a positive QCAT ruling, your neighbour may be ordered to get an arborist to check the tree, write a report and possibly remove it.
JC Tree Services are among the very best in the business, for pruning, removal, advice and more in Northern NSW, Gold Coast, South Brisbane and beyond. Get in touch today.