Olive Branch Tree Disputes

Extending the Olive Branch: Dealing with Disputes over Neighbouring Trees

  • November 29, 2017
  • Blog

Common Trees Disputes

Disputes with neighbours over dangerous or intrusive trees on their property are very common. A recent case in Queensland involved one neighbour trespassing on the land of the other and poisoning trees that covered the sea views. In this case the views had inspired the neighbours to purchase the property in the first place.

To deal with this conflict in a way that does not incur expensive and burdensome trespass suits, landowners may make applications to the Court to make orders to remove a tree. They can also apply for the neighbour to pay compensation and remedy any damage caused to land by the tree.

Additionally, they may authorise actions to be taken in response to the damage, replace a tree that has been removed without consent and other actions intended to remedy, restrain or prevent damage to property, or to prevent injury to any person. These remedies are only available if the disputed tree has caused, is causing, or is likely in the near future to cause, damage to your property, or injury to a person.

Obstructive Trees

If the issue is in relation to a series of trees forming hedges that are at least 2.5 metres tall, you may apply for an order to remedy, restrain or prevent a severe obstruction. The obstruction can be of sunlight to a window or on views from your property. It must be of such severity that the reason outweighs any other reasons for conserving the trees.

Before Filing for Orders

Before the Court can make either of these orders, any person applying for them must have made a reasonable effort to reach agreement with the owner of the land on which the tree is situated. 21 days’ notice must be given to the landowner about this application before it is filed.

Relevant factors that will be taken into account by the Court in making a decision include any contribution of the tree to:

  • privacy
  • landscaping or garden design
  • heritage values
  • protection from the sun, wind, noise, smells or smoke
  • the amenity of the land on which it is situated
  • whether the tree has any historical, cultural, social or scientific value
  • the local ecosystem and biodiversity
  • the natural landscape and scenic value of the land on which it is situated or the locality concerned

Seek Legal Advice to Navigate the Complexities

Due to uncertainties about which factors the Court will consider most favourably and consequences for parties when conflict escalates, it is recommended that you seek legal advice in regards to tree disputes, rather than retaliating. At Etheringtons Solicitors, we are exceptionally qualified to advise and assist you with your tree concerns. Contact us today on (02) 9963 9800 or .