Disputes with neighbours are unfortunately on the increase in Victoria.
We have written two articles advising on these disputes. One of them deals with fencing disputes and the other deals with adverse possession.
The fundamental message in the previous two articles is that having an amicable, constructive and supportive relationship with your next door neighbour is perhaps more valuable than living in the house of your dreams. If you have a dispute with your neighbour then it should be resolved quickly or else it may lead to the souring and destruction of your neighbourly relationship which signals the beginning of a living nightmare.
This article deals with disputes arising out of the neighbour’s trees.
There are no specific State or local laws relating to disputes between neighbours about trees. Disputes about trees are covered by “common law”, which is law that has been developed by Courts over time.
Most disputes are to do with overhanging branches or roots encroaching onto a neighbour’s property. You are entitled to cut off branches overhanging your property and to dig up roots on your property.
HOWEVER, this must be done in such a way that it does not cause unnecessary damage to a tree. Also, you cannot enter your neighbour’s property without permission. Even if your neighbour’s tree is overhanging your property, you should tell your neighbour before you cut off branches because firstly, your neighbour may offer to assist in trimming the tree and secondly, if you destabilise the tree this may cause problems with the neighbour.
A property owner is responsible for all trees growing on his/her property and with respect to neighbours, must ensure there is no nuisance caused to the neighbouring property by the tree branches extending over the neighbour’s property and the tree’s roots growing under the fence and into the neighbour’s property.
Tell your neighbour what you plan to do and ask what they’d like done with the branches and roots that you cut off, as strictly speaking, these remain the property of the tree owner.
For more information, speak with us today.
This article provides information that is general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice.